Skip to main content

Full text of "Tales of King Vikrama"

See other formats


















C. A. KINCAID, c. v. o. 









tie same Author. 


In preparation. 

Printed at the Kanarese Mission Press, Mangalore. 









































IT is stated in the introduction to the Marathi 
version of the Vetal Panchvishi that the book 
was translated into Hindi from Sanskrit, when the 
Marquis of Wellesley was Governor-General of 
India, by one Lalulal. In 1830 A. D. Mr. Sadashiv 
Chatre made a Marathi translation. My friend 
Mr. Healy of the Bombay District Police first 
brought the Marathi version to my notice. I was 
then unaware that there was any other. I read it 
through and was so pleased with it that I decided 
to translate it for the benefit of my own children. 
After I had finished my translation, I learnt for 
the first time that Sir Richard Burton had ren- 
dered the Hindi version into English. Unwilling 
to enter into competition with so pre-eminent a 
scholar, I obtained Burton's book (Vikrama and 
the Vampire) and examined it carefully. I found, 
however, that the Hindi version either differed so 
widely from the Marathi version or that Burton 
had expanded it so much that there was very 
little resemblance between his translation and 
mine. Moreover he translated only eleven stories, 
whereas I have rendered into English all the 

I have, therefore, decided to publish my ver- 
sion in the hope of affording Indian school children 
a pleasant English reading book on familiar and 
well beloved themes, and also in the hope of en- 
abling English children to read the tales which 
are told year in year out in the Deccan villages. 


The Deccan Nursery Tales which I published in 
1914* are the joy of the Brahman children. 

Owing to the differences between modern and 
ancient taste, I have here and there taken some 
slight liberties with the text. The last chapter is 
not to be found in the Vetal Panchvishi. This is 
taken from the sequel known as Sinhasan Battishi. 
I am indebted to Mr. Shombe for his translation of 
the Sanskrit text made by him at my request. 

C. A. K. 

* Macmillan and Co. 


THERE was once a city called Dharamanagar. 
In it there ruled a king called Gandharvasen 
who had four wives. By them he had six 
sons, all wiser and braver, the one than the 
other. When King Gandharvasen died, his eldest 
son succeeded him. But not long afterwards, he 
fell into evil ways. His younger brother Vikramajit, 
therefore, slew him and became king in his stead 
and began to rule his kingdom with the truest 
wisdom and piety. So just, indeed, was his rule 
that from day to day his kingdom grew, until at 
last all India was beneath his sway. When his 
empire had thus been firmly established, the king 
conceived a strange longing to see with his own 
eyes the various lands which owned his sway, and 
the names of which he was always hearing. 

To compass his wish, he made his youngest 
brother Bhartrihari regent. Then donning the garb 
of an anchorite, he began to wander from forest 
to forest and from country to country. Now while 
the Prince Bhartrihari was ruling, there lived, in 
Dharamanagar a Brahman who practised austerities 
in a temple to Parvati. The goddess pleased with 
his devotion, gave him one day the. fruit which 
bestows immortality. He took it home and shewed 
it to his wife, saying: "He who eats of this fruit 

2 Tales of King Vikrama 

will become immortal." The wife replied: "Im- 
mortality for people like us would be as bad as 
the punishment tor some terrible sin. For, if we 
become immortal, it means that we shall have to 
beg our food through all eternity. Any death 
would be better than that." The Brahman said, 
"Your words have troubled my mind. I brought 
this fruit, meaning to eat it. But now I shall do 
whatever you tell me to." His wife said, "Take 
the fruit to the king and ask great wealth as the 
price of it. So we shall be true to our religion 
and escape the torments of poverty." The Brahman 
went to the Prince Bhartrihari and blessed him. 
Then he told him about the fruit of immortality 
and begged him to take it and give him money 
instead. "If you, O king, live for ever," he said, 
"your subjects will rejoice and I with them." 
The prince accepted the fruit and giving the 
Brahman a hundred thousand rupees dismissed 
him. He then went into his palace and offered 
the fruit to his favourite wife. '* Beloved," he said, 
"eat this and you will live and be young fqr ever." 
The princess took the fruit gladly ; but she did 
not eat it herself. . She gave it to one of whom 
she was fonder than life itself. He in turn gave 
it to a dancing girl. The dancing girl was pleased 
at the gift. But afterwards 'she took the fruit to 
sell it to the regent. He gave her a large sum of 
money and dismissed her. Then he grew very 
sad and cried : " A plague on this world ! Hell is 
better than a life like mine ! Happiness lies only 
in the worship 6f God and in the life of an 

Introduction 3 

anchorite!" With these words he went into the 
palace and asked the princess what she had done 
with the fruit. "I ate it," she said. But when the 
Prince Bhartrihari shewed it to her, she grew 
afraid and could say nothing. The prince flung 
himself out of the palace, ate the fruit himself, 
donned the garb of an anchorite, left the capital 
and fled into the woods. 

The god Indra heard of his flight and posted 
an immortal in his train to guard Dharamanagar. 
Day and night the immortal stalked up and down 
outside the town-walls. But the news spread all 
over India. Thus King Vikrama*came to hear of 
it and at once set forth to return to his own coun- 
try. When he reached Dharamanagar it was mid- 
night. As he was about to enter the main gate, 
the immortal challenged him, "Who are you," cried 
the immortal, "and whither go you?" The king 
replied, "I am King Vikrama and I am going 
back to my own city. But who are you, and why 
would you stop me?" The immortal told him that 
Indra had sent him, "If," he added, "you are truly 
King Vikrama, then before you enter, wrestle 
a fall with me." The king girt up his loins and 
shouted back, "Come on". Then the two, king and 
immortal, wrestled. After a fierce struggle the 
king overcame his foe and threw him down and 
sat upon his chest. The immortal said, "O king, 
you have overcome me, yet I shall spare your life." 
The king laughed and said, "Me thinks you are a 

* / Vikrama is the same Vikramajit. Vikrama means va- 
lour and Vikramajit means valour unconquered. , 


Introduction 5 

fool. How can you, who are beaten, talk of spar- 
ing my life?" "I can save you from death," said 
the immortal, "listen to me and I shall bestow on 
you the empire of whole earth." Hearing this the 
king freed the immortal and prepared to listen 
attentively to his words. The immortal said, 
"Listen, King Vikrama. Once in this city there 
lived a great and generous king called Chandra- 
bhan. One day he went into the woods and saw 
an anchorite, who by way of penance was hanging 
head downwards over a fire. Next day he for 
fun said to his attendants, "I shall give a lac of 
rupees to any one who will make that anchorite 
return to the worldly life". A dancing girl said, 
"O king, if you will permit me, I shall bring that 
anchorite to this very spot. I shall bear him a 
son and he will come here, carrying the child on 
his shoulders". The king said, "I shall be much 
surprised if that happens". But he let the girl 
take up the betel-nut roll* and leave the palace 
that she might take captive the anchorite. The 
dancing girl went to where the anchorite was 
hanging. He had ceased to eat or drink anything. 
Thus he had dried up until he was only skin and 
bone. The girl went to him and gently placed a 
sweatmeat between his lips. He liked it and ate 
it. Seeing this, she gave him other sweatmeats 
which he also ate. In this way she fed him with 
sweatmeats for two days. Thus the anchorite 

* This is the betel-nut roll or Vida which the king lays 
clown when he calls for volunteers. He who volunteers 
takes it up. 

6 Tales of King Vikrama 

recovered a little of his strength and coming down 
from the tree, asked her who she was and why 
she had come. The dancing girl answered, "I am 
a god's daughter. I used to practise austerities 
in heaven, but now I have come to earth to do 
penance here". The anchorite asked her where 
she lived. 

Now as the girl went to seek the anchorite, 
she had stopped on the way and built a little 
hermitage. She showed it to him and cooked 
him there a dinner of six courses. So delicate 
was the flavour of the dancing girl's cookery, 
that the anchorite then and there gave up his 
austerities and began to eat, drink and be merry. 
And in no long time, he had lost his heart to the 
dancing girl. Nor was she cruel. So it fell out 
that the anchorite married her and they began to 
live together as man and wife. Thus he lost all 
the merit that he had acquired by his penances. 
In course of time the dancing girl bore the 
anchorite a son. When the boy was a few months 
old, the dancing girl said to the anchorite, "let us 
go to some holy shrine, that we may cleanse our 
bodies from sin". Tempted by the idea of the 
pilgrimage, the anchorite agreed. As he walked 
beside her, she put their son upon his shoulders. 
Thus she led him, as she had promised to do, into 
the king's palace. 

When she came close to the king, he recognised 
her and said, "I think that is the dancing girl 
whom I sent to bring the anchorite. " His courtiers 
said, "Yes, O king, you speak truly, it is she." 

Introduction 7 

Then the dancing girl came up and told the king 
the whole story and claimed her reward. The 
anchorite saw that she had deceived him and that 
the king had sent her merely to stop his penances 
and rob him of his merit. In a great wrath he 
turned on his heel and fled from the city. As he 
went, he killed his son and again entering the 
forest, began anew his penances. Not long after- 
wards, both the king and the anchorite died. 
Now all three, the king, the anchorite and the 
child, have been born again in this city. You, 
O king, are the king. The child has been born 
again as the son of an oilman. The anchorite 
has been born in the house of a potter. You have 
acquired this kingdom. The oilman's son was to 
have become a great magician. But the anchorite 
by means of his own magic slew the oilman's 
son, and having made a ghost of him has hung 
him upside down from a tree. He seeks to slay 
you also. If you can escape him, you will reign 
for ever. Be, therefore, on your guard, for I have 
warned you." So saying, the immortal rose into 
the air until he reached Indra's heaven. The 
king went into his palace and lay down to rest. 
Next morning, the citizens heard that he had 
returned; and young and old, rich and poor, 
thronged to the palace to see him and offer him 
presents. And the sound of music and dancing, 
merriment and rejoicing filled the whole city. 

Some days later a certain anchorite called 
Shantashil came to the king's palace, and placing 
an apple in the king's hand, sat down and a few 

8 Tales of King Vikrama 

minutes later left without speaking. When he 
had gone, the king guessed that this must be the 
anchorite, his enemy, who sought to kill him. He 
did not eat the apple, but gave it to a servant and 
bade him keep it carefully. Next day the anchorite 
came again and placed another apple in the king's 
hand. This he did every day for several weeks. 
But one morning the king went with his ministers 
and his attendants to his armoury. The anchorite 
followed him there and, as usual, put an apple in 
his hand. It fell. An ape, that was close by, 
snatched it up and tore it open. As the ape did 
so, there fell from it a ruby of such brilliance that 
none of those standing by could bear to look at it. 
The king asked the anchorite, why he had 
given him so priceless a jewel. The anchorite 
replied, "O king, it is written in the sacred books 
that one should never approach with empty hand 
either a priest, a king or a god, because by offer- 
ing gifts to them one obtains gifts in return. You 
talk, O king, of one ruby, but I put a similar ruby, 
in each one of the apples that I gave you." On 
hearing this the king sent for his servant and 
bade him bring all the apples given him to keep. 
The servant did so, and the king broke them open 
and found a similar ruby inside each. He then 
sent for a jeweller and bade him test them. "In 
this world," said the king, "the greatest of all things 
is truth. Therefore tell me their true value." The 
jeweller looked at them carefully and replied, 
"What you have said, O king, is just. Where 
there is truth, there will be found all the virtues. 

Introduction 9 

Truth serves a man in this world and in the next. 
Hear me, O king, these jewels are all exactly alike 
in colour, size and lustre. Together they are worth 
far more than singly. Yet singly each is worth 
more than a lac of rupees." The king was very 
pleased. He dismissed the jeweller 'with a hand- 
some present. Then he turned to the anchorite 
and taking him by the hand, seated him on throne. 
"O king of anchorites," he cried, "the value of 
your gift is almost equal to the whole worth of my 
kingdom. Pray tell me what was your purpose 
in making me such a splendid present." "O king," 
said the anchorite, "the future, family quarrels, 
money matters, spells, love affairs, medicines, gifts, 
a man's honour and dishonour should never be 
discussed in public. I cannot tell you what you 
ask me in the presence of your household. For 
it has been said that a secret heard by six ears 
ceases to be a secret; whereas a secret heard by 
only four ears remains secret. When only two 
ears have heard it, God himself cannot guess it." 
The king then drew the anchorite aside and bade 
him test him any way he pleased. The anchorite 
replied, "O king, on the banks of the Godavari there 
is a great burning ground. I wish to complete my 
incantations there and thus become master of the 
eight* magical powers. Therefore I want you 

* The eight magical powers are : 

1. Anima or the power to make oneself invisible. 

2. Mahima or the power to make oneself infinitely big. 

3. Garimaor the power to make oneself infinitely heavy. 

4. Laghima or the power to make oneself infinitely small 

and light. 

10 Tales of King Vikrama 

to spend a night with me there, for so I shall 
achieve my object". The king said, u Certainly, any 
night you please." The anchorite chose the four- 
teenth of the dark half of Bhadrapad* and bade 
the king join him armed that evening. He then 
went to his hermitage and thence to the burning 
ground where he made the preparation. When 
the appointed day came, the king girt on his 
sword and dagger and went out alone to join the 
anchorite. He bowed to him saying, "O king of 
anchorites, I am at your service." The anchorite 
said, "O king, sit down." The king sat down and 
as he did so, he looked round and saw numerous 
ghosts, phantoms and vampires, all of hideous 
size and shape. They were dancing in a ring 
round the anchorite, who was seated in the middle 
and played hellish music on a droning pipe. 

The king felt no fear, but asked the anchorite 
what his orders were. The anchorite said, "Four 
miles to the south of this is another burning 
ground. In it you will find a corpse hanging 
from a tree, bring it to me." The king started on 
his journey. It was a dark and gloomy night 

5. Prapti or the power to obtain everything. 

6. Prakamya or irresistible will power. 

7. Ishitva or universal supremacy. 

8. Vashitva or the power to hold others in subjection. 
* The Indian year consists of twelve months : 

Chaitra, Vaishakh, Jeshta, Ashad, Shravan, Bhadrapad, 
Ashwin, Kartik, Margashirsha, Paush, Magh y and Falgun. 
North of the Narbada the first month is Kartik. South of 
the Narbada the year begins with Chaitra. Bhadrapad 
corresponds with August-September. 

Introduction 11 

and heavy rain was falling. All round him he 
heard the voices of ghosts and corpses gibbering 
and whispering to each other. Yet he strode on 
boldly. Serpents coiled themselves round his 
legs, but he drove them off by uttering mighty 
spells before they could bite him. At last he 
reached the other burning ground. There he saw 
vampires who were devouring men whom they had 
dragged there and witches who were tearing in 
pieces the hearts of little children. Tigers stood 
and lashed their flanks with their tails. Wild 
elephants rushed madly from side to side; and 
the whole air seemed filled with noise and horror. 
In the burning ground he saw a tree that 
seemed to be on fire. Round it voices cried, 
"Kill him, catch him, eat him, tear him, look out ? 
stop him." Yet the king felt no fear, for he 
guessed that the anchorite was the very potter 
about whom the immortal had warned him. 
Boldly going close to the tree, he looked and saw 
a dead body that swung by a rope from one of 
the branches. He climbed the tree and drawing 
his sword, cut the rope so that the body fell. As 
it fell, it shouted, " Kill him, kill him." The king 
was pleased when he heard the voice, because he 
thought that the body still lived. He got down 
and asked the body who it was. The corpse 
laughed hideously and rising off the ground, 
again began to hang from the tree. The king 
marvelled, but he again climbed the tree and 
seizing the body round the armpits forced it on 
to the ground, "Vile wretch," he cried, "tell me 

12 Tales of King Vikrama 

who you are or it will be the worse for you." 
The dead body made no answer. The king then 
guessed it must be the oilman's son, whom the 
anchorite had killed and put in the burning ground. 
He tied up the dead body with his shawl and 
throwing it across his back, set forth to carry it 
to the anchorite. 

Now it is written that the brave man surely 
wins to glory. When the king lifted the dead 
body, it began to speak. It asked the king who 
he was and where he was taking it. The king 
explained. The dead body replied, "If you obey 
my orders, I shall go with you. On the way do 
not speak a single word; if you do, I shall at once 
go back to the burning ground." The king agreed. 
He walked on a few steps. Then the dead body 
said, "O king, the sages and the wise pass their 
time gaily with song and laughter, whereas, fools 
spend their days slumbering ceaselessly. There- 
fore to shorten our road, I shall tell you a story. 
Give heed to it." 


TN Waranashi* city there once upon a time 
lived a king by name Pratapmukut. His son 
was called Vajramukut and his queen Mahadevi. 
One day the prince taking the first minister's 
son with him went a-hunting. After a time they 
found themselves in a dense forest. Suddenly 
they saw in front of them a wonderful lake. On 
its shores wild geese and duck and cranes and 
other kinds of water-fowls sported gaily. Lotuses 
bloomed on its waters and on all sides grew leafy 
trees. In their dense shade flew soft, cool and 
scented breezes. In their branches sang singing- 
birds. Here and there bloomed bright flowers 
among which could be heard the droning of 
humming bees. 

Both the prince and his companion were weary. 
So tying their horses to the branch of a tree they 
quenched their thirst and bathed their hands and 
feet in the lake. Then they went and worshipped 
at a shrine to Shiva which stood close by. 

Now just about this time there came with her 
train to the opposite shore of the lake a princess. 
She bathed and after bathing, she also worshipped 
at the temple to Shiva. Next she began to walk 
in the shade of the trees. It so chanced that the 
prince left his companion sitting under a tree and 
also began to walk in the shade of the forest. 

*The old name for Benares. 

14 Tales of King Vikrama 

Suddenly he and the princess met and saw each 
other. When the prince's eyes rested on her, her 
beauty overcame him. "O cursed Love god!" he 
cried, "why have you come to torment me?" The 
princess said nothing but she took a lotus flower 
from her hair, placed it behind her ear, broke the 
stem with her teeth and touched her foot with it. 
Lastly, she thrust it into her bosom. Then entering 
her palanquin, s"he and her servants left the spot. 
The prince in despair at her departure went to 
the minister's son and told him, with downcast 
look, what had happened. "O my friend," Vajra- 
mukut continued, "I have just seen a lovely maiden. 
But I know neither her name nor her dwelling 
place. Yet I am resolved that unless I win her 
as my bride, I shall take my life." 

The minister's son did his best to soothe the 
prince and in the end induced him to mount his 
horse and return home. Yet Vajramukut remained 
so affected by the sight of the fair princess, that 
he could neither read, write, eat, drink, nor attend 
to state business.. He could only picture to himself 
the image of his beloved and weep when he thought 
of her. He would neither talk about nor listen 
to .anything else. The result was that he grew 
daily thinner. At last the minister's son said, "My 
prince! he who is entangled in a great passion 
rarely escapes, and only then after much suffering. 
The wise mafi, therefore, shuns the snare." The 
prince replied, "My friend, I am already caught 
in the snare. So come^ what may, good or ill, I 
cannot escape from it." The minister's son seeing 

Vajramukut and Padmavati 15 

his condition said, "My prince, did not the princess 
speak to you, nor you to her?" "No," Vajramukut 
answered, "she neither spoke to me, nor I to her." 
"It will then be hard to win her," said the minister's 
son." "Then," retorted the prince, "it will be hard 
to save me. If I win her, I live; if not, I shall 
die." The minister's son was silent for a moment. 
"Did she make neither sign nor gesture?" he asked. 
The prince answered, " Yes she did. When she saw 
me, she suddenly took a lotus from her hair and 
put behind her ear. Then breaking the stem with 
her teeth, she touched her foot with it. Last of all 
she put it in her bosom. " The minister's son smiled 
and said, "My prince, be sad no more. I have 
read her meaning and I know her name and her 
dwelling place." " Tell them to me," cried the prince. 

His companion said, "Listen to me, my prince; 
when she took the lotus flower from her hair and 
put it behind her ear, she meant to tell you that 
she dwelt in the Karnatik, for karna, as you know, 
means ear. "When she bit through the stem with 
her te^eth, she meant to tell you that she was the 
daughter of King Dantwat ; for clanta, as you know 
means tooth. When she touched her foot with^the 
lotus, she meant to tell you that her name was 
Padmavati. For padma, as you know, means 
lotus and Padmavati or Lakshmi was borne up 
on lotuses when slie rose from the ocean. .When 
she thrust the flower into her bosom, she meant to 
say that she hafl placed your image tKere. 

The prince was overjoyed arid told his compa- 
nion to take him at once to the princess' city. , 

16 Tales of King Vikrama 

Straightway both of them dressed for the journey, 
girt on their swords, put money and jewels into 
their belts, mounted their horses and started for 
the Karnatik. Some days later they reached it 
and entering the princess' town came near the 
royal palace. Close to it they saw an old woman 
sitting gossiping by her door. They dismounted 
and going up to her said, "Lady, we are foreign 
merchants. Our merchandise is following us. We 
have ridden ahead to find a lodging. If you can 
hire us a room in your house, we shall be greatly 
indebted to you." The old lady looked at them 
and, attracted by their handsome faces and courtly 
speech said, "My house is yours; stay in it as 
long as you wish." 

The two young men went gladly to her house, 
and a little later the old woman began to talk 
freely with them. The minister's son asked her 
who she was, of what family she came, and how 
she lived. The old woman replied, "I frave a 
daughter who is a maid servant in the royal palace. 
Once too, I was foster mother to the Princess 
Padmavati. Now I am old, I sit idly in my house. 
But the king gives me food and clothing and every 
now and then I go to see the princess." The 
prince was delighted when he heard this. He 
gave the old woman a jewel and said, "When you 
next go to see Padmavati, take her, I pray you/ a 
message from me." "My son," said the old woman, 
"why should I delay? Tell me your message and 
I shall take it to her at once." 

Vajramukut replied, "Tell her that the prince 

Vajramukut and Padmavati 17 

whom she saw on the banks of the lake on the 
fifth of the bright half of Jesht* bas come." The 
old woman took her stick in her hand and went 
to the palace. She found the princess alone. She 
made obeisance to her and blessed her. Then 
she said, "In your childhood I gave you all my 
love and care and I nursed you myself. Now that 
you have grown to womanhood, my one wish is 
that you should know the joys of youth". After 
softly talking in this strain for some time, the old 
woman, seeing an opportunity, said, "The prince 
whose heart you stole near the lake on the fifth of 
the bright half of Jesht is staying in my house. 
He begs you by me to keep the promise that you 
made him. For to win your love he has left his 
kingdom and come to this far country. And I 
would add that he is worthy of you, for he is as 
handsome as you are beautiful." 

The princess smeared both her hands with 
sandalwood paste and slapped the old woman on 
both cheeks, saying, "Vile wretch, leave my house 
this instant." The old woman went sadly away to 
the prince and told him what had happened. 
Vajramukut was in despair; but the minister's son 
said, "My prince, do not lose heart. You have no.t 
grasped Padmavati's meaning. When she slapped 
the old woman with ten fingers dipped in sandal- 
wood paste, she meant that when ten days had 
passed there would be no inoonf and that the 

* Approximately June. f There is in the original a 

pun on Chandan sandalwood and Chandane moonlight 
which cannot be rendered in English. 

18 Tales of King Vikrama 

night would be more favourable for meeting.'' 
When ten days, had passed the old woman again 
went to see the princess. But the latter dipped 
three of her fingers in saffron paste and slapped 
the old woman with them on the cheek, saying, 
" You wicked woman ! leave the house at once." The 
old woman went sadly back to the prince and told 
him. Again Vajramukut despaired. But the 
minister's, son said, "My prince, there is no need 
to lose hope. Padmavati's meaning was that she 
had a bad cold and that she would probably not 
be well for three days. If you will wait patiently 
for three days, she will meet you." When three 
days had passed, the old woman for the third time 
went to see the princess. But Padmavati in a 
passion flung her out of the western window of 
her room. The old woman told the prince what 
had befallen her. But before he had time to get 
dejected, the minister's son said, "Padmavati's 
meaning is that you should this very night enter 
her room through the western window". On 
hearing this the prince was overjoyed. 

Late that night the prince and his companion 
put on brown dresses, fastened on their swords 
and when all was silent,, made their way softly 
to the princess' window. The minister's son stayed 
outside. The prince climbed through it. The 
princess who was waiting for him greeted him 
with a smile and shutting the window led him 
into the palace. As they went, the prince was 
dazzled with its splendours. Court ladies in 
coloured dresses and covered with jewels stood 

Vajramukut and Padmavati 19 

respectfully on each side of the walls with down- 
cast eyes and folded hands. In one room a bed 
with a golden canopy was decked with scented 
flowers. On the table stood vases of roses, of 
attar and of betel-nut. Lamps studded with precious 
stones shed their light; and the air was heavy 
with the perfume of sandalwood, of incense, of 
musk and of saffron. Garlands of moghra and 
jasmine flowers, of roses, of coral tree and champak 
blossoms hung from every door in the palace. 
The walls were covered with paintings on golden 
backgrounds and were hung with giant mirrors 
that dazzled the prince's eyes. Indeed it is im- 
possible to describe all the rich and precious objects 
which the prince saw. Padmavati led him by the 
hand and placed him on a jewelled throne, washed 
his feet with her own hands and anointed him 
with sandalwood ointment. Then she hung a 
garland of flowers round his neck, sprinkled rose- 
leaves over his body, put scented powder and 
attar of roses on his hands, and then began gently 
to fan him. The prince said to her, " Dearest, now 
that I have seen you, my heart is at peace. But 
why do you toil to give me pleasure ? Your tender 
hands are not meant to ply the fan. Give me the 
fan and sit at my side." Padmavati replied, "My 
king, great was your toil before you found me. 
It is only right that now I should serve you". 
Just then a maid servant took the fan from her 
hand, saying: "Nay, princess, this is my task, 
enjoy yourself while I wait on you." Then both 
prince and princess ate betel-nut and talked and 

20 Tales of King Vikrama 

laughed together until dawn overtook them 
unawares. The princess hid the prince in a secret 
chamber. That evening they were married by 
gandharva* marriage rites and they spent the 
night in each other's arms. After some days of 
happiness the prince would have left the palace, 
but Padmavati refused to part with him. When a 
month had gone, the prince grew very homesick. 
One night he sat thinking how he had left his 
country, his kinsmen, his father and, above all, the 
friend whose wisdom had won for him the lady 
whom he loved. Him he had not seen for a whole 
month. "What can he be thinking of me?" the 
prince asked himself, "how is he? I wonder." As 
he sat sad and restless, the princess came to him, 
and seeing that he was unhappy, exclaimed, " O my 
prince, tell me your grief. Why are you so dej ected?" 
Vajramukut replied, " I have a dear friend, the son 
of my father's minister. For a whole month I have 
not seen or heard of him. Yet it was his wisdom 
which enabled me to guess your signals and to 
win you." The princess said gaily, "If you are 
thinking of him, you will not be happy with me. 
Now listen, my prince, I shall prepare some cakes 
and sweetmeats. You go on ahead to see your 
friend. Then when I send you the food, you make 
him eat it. And after a talk with him come back 

* Gandharvas are the immortal minstrels of the court of 
the god Indra. A Gandharva marriage is the simplest form 
possible of marriage, the Gandharvas being supposed to be 
the only witnesses. Still in ancient India it was recognised 
as a genuine marriage. It is not so recognised now- 

Vajramukut and Padmavati 21 

to me as quickly as you can." The prince agreed 
and went out to meet the minister's son. The 
princess cooked some beautiful cakes and dainty 
sweetmeats. Then she put poison in all of them 
and sent them to where the prince was sitting, 
talking to his friend. The minister's son on seeing 
the cakes said, "Prince, where have these cakes 
come from?" Vajramukut told him what had 
taken place between him and the princess. The 
minister's son said, "This is poison that you are 
giving me. Happily you knew nothing about it. 
Women cannot bear the friends of those whom 
they love. I am sorry you spoke to her of me." 
Vajramukut answered indignantly: "Such a thing 
cannot possibly be true. No one would be so 
wicked as to act as you say." As Vajramukut 
spoke, he flung a piece of one of the cake to a 
stray dog. Directly it had swallowed it, it died in 
agony. The prince rose in a fury and said, "I shall 
never live with so evil a woman. All the love I 
bore for her is dead." The minister's son said, 
"Nay, never mind. Let us carry her off to our 
own country. She will get all right there." Vajra- 
mukut replied, "Be it so; only you must devise a 
plan by which we can do so." 

The minister's son said, "You must now go back 
to Padmavati, my prince. Be as kind to her as if 
nothing had happened. Then when she has fallen 
asleep, take all her jewels. Draw with marking-nut 
juice a trident on her foot and come back here as 
quickly as you can." Vajramukut did as his friend 
advised and handed over to him Padmavati's 

22 Tales of King Vikrama 

jewels. The minister's son took them and disguis- 
ing himself and Vajramukut as anchorites -- the 
former as teacher and the latter as pupil - - went 
with him to a burning ground outside the city. 
There the minister's son gave one of the princess' 
jewels to the prince "Take it," he said, "and sell 
it in the town; if any one seizes you, lay the blame 
on me." Vajramukut took the jewel to a goldsmith 
opposite the palace gate. The goldsmith at once 
recognised it as Padmavati's and asked him where 
he had got it. At the same time he sent word to 
the chief of the Police. When the latter came, he 
arrested Vajramukut and questioned him. "My 
teacher," explained Vajramukut, "gave it to me to 
sell ; but I do not know how he got it." The chief 
of the Police at once sent for the teacher and took 
both him and Vajramukut to the royal palace and 
placed them before the king. 

The king asked the teacher, "Where did you get 
this trinket?" "Last night," replied the teacher, 
"was the fourteenth of the dark half of the month. 
I went to the burning ground and uttered an in- 
cantation by which I can summon witches. In- 
stantly, a witch appeared. She took off her orna- 
ments and gave them to me. As she did so, I saw 
on her left foot the mark of a trident." When the 
king heard the anchorite's reply, he went hurriedly 
into his inner rooms and sent word that the 
anchorites should be let go. Then he went to his 
queen and said: "Look at Padmavati's left foot, 
and see if there is any mark on it." The queen 
went away and returning in a very short time 

Vajramukut and Padmavati 23 

said, "O king, I have seen Padmavati's left foot 
and there is on it the mark of a trident." 

The king's heart sank within him : "One should 
not," he said to himself, "publish abroad family 
scandals; still I cannot keep in my house a daugh- 
ter who spends her nights in burning grounds". 
That night he sent for the chief of the Police and 
bade him take Padmavati to a dense forest outside 
the city and leave her there. Her foster mother, 
however, heard of the order and told Vajramukut 
and the minister's son. They mounted their horses, 
searched the forest until they found the princess 
and then rode off with her to their own country. 

At this point the oilman's son asked Vikrama, 
"O king, who of the above persons, think you, 
was most to blame?" "The king was," answered 
King Vikrama. "Why?" asked the oilman's son. "The 
cleverness of the minister's son," said the king, 
"was worthy of the highest praise. The chief of 
Police merely obeyed his master's orders. Vajra- 
mukut should not have told the princess about the 
minister's son. She really acted more or less in 
self-defence. But the king without any real proof 
judged his daughter guilty and cast her from him." 

When the king had finished speaking, he saw 
that he was alone. He realised that by speaking 
he had broken his promise. On going back to the 
burning ground, he saw the dead body hanging 
to the same tree as before. King Vikrama took it 
down and flinging it over his shoulder began to 
retrace his steps. As he went, the oilman's son 
began to tell his second tale. 



ONCE upon a time there was a city called 
Dharmasthal on the banks of the Jamna. 
Over it ruled a king whose name was Guna- 
dhin. At the same time also a Brahman 
lived there named Keshav Bhat. He was endowed 
with extraordinary virtues and passed his days 
on the bank of the river in bathing and purifying 
himself, in repeating the names of God and in 
contemplating visions of the deity. He had a 
beautiful daughter called Madhumaloti, who had 
recently reached womanhood and whose future 
marriage was being discussed by her family. 

One day Keshav Bhat went to attend a wedding 
at the house of one of his followers. At the same 
time, his son went to be instructed in religion by 
his spiritual teacher. Also about the same time 
there came to Keshav Bhat's house a Brahman 
youth whose beauty and qualities so struck Madhu- 
maloti's mother that she promised him Madhumaloti 
as his bride. But Keshav Bhat when staying at 
his follower's house had also promised to give 
Madhumaloti to the son of a Brahman there. And 
Keshav Bhat's son had promised one of his friends 
at his teacher's house that he should wed his sister. 
The two youths came to seek their bride and 
found a third claimant for her hand already in the 
house. The new-comers were named Trivikram 
and Waman. The third was called Madusudan. 

Madhumaloti and her suitors 25 

But in beauty, merit or learning there was not 
the slightest difference between them. The 
Brahman became very dejected. For he could 
not see how he was going to give his daughter 
to all three suitors. Yet he did not wish to break 
the promise made to any one of them. While he 
sat unable to make up his mind, a snake bit his 
daughter. Her father and her three suitors all ran 
to her and then sent for the wisest magicians and 
snake-doctors of the day. They examined Madhu- 
maloti, but pronounced her case hopeless from the 
first. One said, "No man bitten by a snake on 
the fifth, sixth, seventh or fourteenth of the month 
ever recovers." Another said, "No man poisoned 
during the asterisms of Rohini, Mag ha, Aslesha, 
Vishakha, Mul or Kritika ever gets well." A third 
said, "No one bitten by a snake in the limbs, 
cheeks, throat, eye or navel ever fails to die." A 
fourth said, " When Brahmadev and all the rest of 
the gods put together could not cure your daughter, 
what can we do?" So saying the wise men went 
away. Nevertheless, Keshav Bhat tried many spells 
and gave the dead girl many powerful medicines, 
but all in vain. At last he lost all hope and taking 
the dead body to the burning ground gave her 
to the flames and returned sadly to his house. 
But one of the three suitors gathered together her 
charred bones and becoming an anchorite wandered 
with the bones from forest to forest, The second 
collected her ashes and building a shed lived in 
it that he might guard them. The third abandoning 
all idea of marriage wandered through India, from 

26 Tales of King Vikrama 

one shrine to another. One day he came to a 
house of a Brahman to beg a meal. The Brahman 
seeing him said, "Welcome, pilgrim, come in for a 
while and be seated." When food had been cooked 
the Brahman washed the pilgrim's feet and hands 
and seated him on a dining stool. His wife began 
to serve the meal. When dinner was half way 
through, the Brahman's youngest child sought its 
mother's breast. The mother tried to push it away, 
but it struggled with her and began to cry. She 
tried to soothe it, but it grew still more fractious. 
Flying into a passion, she picked the child up and 
threw it into the kitchen fire. There it immediately 
perished in the flames. 

At the sight of this terrible act, the pilgrim 
rose from his dining stool. His host asked him 
what ailed him. The young man replied, "I can- 
not eat food in a house where such wicked deeds 
are done." The host rose with a smile and taking 
up a book of incantations sought in it one that 
restored the dead to life. He found it, and as he 
repeated it, the burnt infant took back its former 
shape. The pilgrim was at first dazed with asto- 
nishment. Then he thought to himself that if he 
could but make himself master of the book, he 
might restore his beloved to life. He, however, 
concealed his thoughts and resuming his seat, 
finished his meal. All that day he stayed in the 
Brahman's house and made himself pleasant to 
his host. The same night when all had gone to 
rest, he rose and stealing into the inner room seized 
the book and at once fled with it from the house. 

Madhumaloti and her suitors 27 

In a few days he reached the burning ground 
where the Brahman girl had been burnt. There 
he found the other two lovers sitting and talking 
together. When he came up they recognised him 
and greeted him courteously. "Brother," said one 
of them, " did you find anything in the course of 
your travels?" "Yes," replied the pilgrim, "I learnt 
the art of restoring the dead to life." "If that is 
so," cried the other two, "bring us back our be- 
loved." "First," said the pilgrim, "put together 
her charred bones and ashes." The others did so. 
The pilgrim took out his book of spells, searched 
for the one he required and repeated it. Instantly 
the dead girl stood in front of them. But at the 
sight of her the old desire was at once kindled in 
the heart of each one of them and they began to 
quarrel, as before, as to who should wed her. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "O King 
Vikrama, who do you think deserved the maid?" 
The king replied, "The one who built a shed and 
lived in it with the dead girl's ashes." "But," said 
the oilman's son. "if the other had not preserved 
the charred bones, and the third had not found the 
spell, how could she have come back to life?" "He 
who treasured her bones," said King Vikrama, 
"acted as a son would have done. He who 
brought her back to life acted a father's part, but 
he who guarded her ashes and built a shed for 
them deserved the maid, for he made her a home." 
When the king had finished, he saw that he was 
alone. He realised that he had again broken his 
promise. Going back to the burning ground he 


Tales of King Vikrama 

found the dead body hanging as before from the 
tree. He threw it over his shoulders and began 
to retrace his steps. As he went, the oilman's son 
began to tell his third tale. 



ONCE upon a time there ruled in the town of 
Vardhaman a king named Rupsen. As he 
sat one day on the terrace over the porch, he 
heard a clamour in the courtyard below. He 
asked his servants the cause of it. The door-keeper 
said, "O king, a number of strangers have come 
attracted by the fame of your wealth and they are 
here talking together in the courtyard." The king 
was satisfied with this answer. But a few moments 
later, a Rajput from Northern India, named Virvar, 
who was seeking a post in the royal service, 
mounted the stair to the terrace. The door-keeper 
said, " O king, an armed man who desires to serve 
you has come and stands outside the door. If 
your Majesty permits me, I shall lead him in." 
The king made a sign of consent. When the 
Rajput stood before him, the king said, "Well, 
Rajput, what pay are you asking?" "The least 
that I can keep myself on, O king," replied the 
Rajput, "is a thousand rupees a day." "But how 
many men have you brought with you?" asked 
the king. "O king," answered the Rajput, "I have 
brought only myself, my son and my wife." At 
this the men round the king began to laugh. 
But the king thought that a man who demanded 
such pay must have extraordinary merit. So after 
a short pause the king ordered his treasurer to 
pay the Rajput a thousand rupees every day. 

30 Tales of King Vikrama 

The Rajput took his thousand rupees and going 
back to his lodging, divided the money into two 
halves. One half he divided among the Brahmans 
of the town. The other half he again divided into 
two quarters. One quarter he distributed among 
the monks, the mendicants and the anchorites. 
With the remaining quarter he bought food for 
the beggars and with part of it he provided a 
meal for himself and his family. This Virvar did 
every day ; but at night he would take his sword 
and shield and stand as sentry outside the king's 
private rooms. Whenever the king woke up, he 
would ask, " Is Virvar there?" The answer always 
came, "Here, O King," and whatever work the king 
gave him, he did with the utmost care. Indeed 
whether he ate or drank, sat, rose up or walked, 
his only care throughout the twenty-four hours 
was to further his master's interests and be ready, 
no matter when and where he was needed. For 
it is said that he who sells himself to another 
must be the slave of the other; and if he is the 
slave of others, he cannot expect pleasure. No 
matter how wise a servant may be, he must remain 
dumb with fear in his master's presence. He can 
only know peace when he is far from his master. 
Thus it is that the life of the servant is even 
harder than the life of the anchorite. 

One night about midnight the king heard the 
voice of a woman weeping in the burning ground. 
He called out, "Who is on duty?" Virvar 
replied that he was. "Go and see," said the king, 
"who is weeping in the burning ground." For it 

King Rupsen and Virvar 31 

has been said that to test the servant one should 
give him work in season and out of season. If he 
obeys each and every order, he is a good servant. 
If he begins to make objections then he is a bad 
one. For it is only in times of trouble that one 
can test the worth of a brother, a friend, a wife or 
a servant. 

Virvar straightway went through the darkness 
in the direction of the sound. The king donned 
a black robe and followed him without his know- 
ledge, so that he might test him. When Virvar 
reached the burning ground, he saw a beautiful 
woman covered from head to foot in costly raiment 
and laden with jewels. She was weeping loudly 
and beating her breast. Virvar asked her why 
she wept. She said, "I am the Good Fortune of 
the kingdom. The cause of my grief is that there 
is a conspiracy afoot in the king's palace. In a 
few days my elder sister, the Evil Fortune of the 
kingdom, will enter the palace. When she enters 
it, I must leave it. The king will first lose his 
wealth and a month later his life." 

"Is there no way," asked Virvar, "to prevent 
this?" "There is a temple to Parvati," replied the 
fair woman, "four rpiles from here. If you offer 
the head of your son, the danger will pass. The 
king will live a hundred years and no evil will 
ever befall him." 

Virvar on hearing this went to his house, the 
king followed him. Virvar woke up his wife and 
told her everything. She roused her son and said, 
"My son, if your head is offered to Parvati, the 

32 Tales of King Vikrama 

king's life will be saved and the kingdom will en- 
dure for ever. Now what do you say?" The boy 
replied, "I give my head gladly, for by doing so, 
I shall obey you, I shall be loyal to my king, and 
I shall please the goddess. What greater thing 
could I achieve than this? Waste, therefore, no 
time, but make the sacrifice at once." Now it has 
been said that there is no greater joy than an 
obedient son, a healthy body, fruitful learning, a 
ready friend and a chaste wife. And there is no 
greater evil than a miserly king, a cowardly ser- 
vant, a faithless friend and a disobedient wife. So 
Virvar said to his wife, "If you of your own free 
will, give me our son, I shall take him with me 
and offer him to Parvati." The wife replied, "You 
my husband, have all my love. Compared with 
you, I care for neither my son, nor my mother, my 
father, nor my brother. For it is written in the 
sacred books that neither by charities nor by vows 
does a wife become holy, but only by the service 
of her husband. And him she must cherish, be he 
lame or crippled or hunchbacked or blind or deaf. 
No matter how many prayers she may utter or 
how many fasts she may keep, yet if she has not 
won her husband's favour, all her piety is useless." 
Virvar, his wife and his son went together to 
Parvati's temple. The king silently followed them. 
Virvar entered the temple and standing with fold- 
ed arms before the image cried, "O goddess, I am 
offering to you my son's head, that by my sacrifice 
the king may live a hundred years and that this 
kingdom may endure always. When he had 

King Rupsen and Virvar 33 

spoken, he struck his son a single blow with his 
sword, completely severing his head from his body. 
When the wife saw the act, she cried out, "O god- 
dess, Of what use is life to one so wicked as to 
offer her son's head as a sacrifice?" As she spoke 
she fell and died in front of the image. When 
Virvar saw both his son and wife dead, he said, 
"Let my life also be a sacrifice to you, O Goddess." 
So saying he cut off his own head and offered it 
to Parvati. 

When the king saw what had happened and 
that the whole family had perished, he grieved 
deeply, saying, "I am the cause of these three 
deaths. It is not fitting that I should enjoy good 
fortune obtained at such a price." He drew his 
sword and was about to kill himself, as Virvar 
had done, when the Goddess Parvati herself ap- 
peared before him. She seized both his hands 
and said, "O king, your courage has won my 
favour. Ask of me any boon you will." "Mighty 
goddess," said the king, "the boon I ask is that 
you bring back to life Virvar, his wife and son." 
"So be it," said the goddess. As the words passed 
her lips, life returned to all three dead bodies. 
The king bestowed on Virvar half his kingdom 
and in his joy did all he could to make him and 
his wife and son happy. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama, who of all those persons was the most 
deserving? Was it Virvar who for his master's 
sake sacrificed his only son, or was it, do you think^ 
the king who for his servant's sake ceased to care 


Tales of King Vikrama 

either for his own life or kingdom ? " King Vikrama- 
jit said, "The king was the most deserving." 
"Why?" asked the oilman's son. "To give one's 
life for one's master," said King Vikramajit, "is 
a servant's duty; to obey one's father is a son's 
duty; to act according to her lord's command is a 
wife's duty. But to act as nobly as the king acted 
towards Virvar is to do more than one's duty. 
Therefore, the king deserved the highest praise." 
When King Vikramajit had finished speaking, he 
saw that he was alone. Realising that he had 
again broken his promise, he made his way back 
to the burning ground. There he saw the dead 
body hanging as before from the branch. Flinging 
it over his shoulder, he began to retrace his steps. 
As he went, the oilman's son began his fourth tale. 



ONCE upon a time there lived in the town of 
Bhogavati a king called Rupsen who owned a 
parrot called Chudamani. One day the king 
asked Chudamani what he knew. "O king," 
said the parrot, "I know everything." "Then Chuda- 
mani," said the king, "tell me where there lives a 
maid fair enough to be my bride." "O king," said 
the parrot, "in the country of Magadha, there rules 
a king called Magdheshwar. He has a daughter 
called Chandravati. Not only her beauty, but her 
wisdom makes her worthy of you. Indeed, the god 
Brahmadev destined her to be your bride." The 
king sent for his astrologers. They consulted the 
horoscopes of both the king and Chandravati and 
they confirmed what the parrot had said. The 
king summoned a Brahman and told him to go to 
King Magdheshwar. "If," said the king, "you 
arrange my marriage with the princess, I shall 
give you a great reward." The Brahman made 
obeisance and setting forth for Magdheshwar 
reached it after some days. 

Now princess Chandravati had a maina* called 
Madanamanjari that was just as learned and 
shrewd as Chudamani. One day the princess said 
to her maina, "Tell me Madanamanjari, where 
lives the prince who is fitted to be my husband." 
"My princess," said the maina, "Rupsen, king of 

* A kind of jay. 


The Maina and the Parrot 37 

Bhogavati, is so beautiful and brave that the god 
Brahmadev has destined him to be your husband." 
Hearing the words of Madanamanjari, the princess, 
although she had never seen Rupsen, fell deeply 
in love with him. Shortly afterwards the Brahman 
sent by king Rupsen reached king Magdheshwar's 
court and announced his master's offer of marriage. 
King Magdheshwar accepted the offer and sent 
back a Brahman of his own with king Rupsen's 
envoy to announce his acceptance. He bade his 
messenger bring back king Rupsen with him. He 
in the mean time would make all preparations for 
the royal wedding. 

The two Brahmans set out together and some 
clays later reached Bhogavati and told king Rupsen. 
The king was delighted and after due preparation 
started for Magadha. There he was married to 
the princess Chandravati with great pomp and 
ceremony. Afterwards he took his bride and a 
vast dowry back to his own city Bhogavati. 
Chandravati took with her the maina in a cage. 
One day the king and the queen in the greatness 
of their own happiness resolved to marry the 
parrot to the maina. They had the two birds 
brought before them and said, "To live alone is 
unendurable. If we marry the parrot and the 
maina, and put them both together in a single 
cage, they will learn what true happiness is." 
They then sent for a large cage and put both 
birds inside it. The following day when the king 
and queen were talking together, the parrot began 
to make friendly advances towards the maina, but 

38 Tales of King Vikrama 

it repulsed them all saying, "I never did care 
about men. They are sinful, mean, deceitful and 
they are all wife-murderers." At this the parrot 
angrily retorted, " No ! it is women who are deceit- 
ful, treacherous and faithless." 

At this the main a began to shriek at the parrot 
and the parrot began to scream back at the maina, 
until at last the king asked them what they were 
quarrelling about. The maina answered, "I cannot 
bear men. They are always wicked and cruel to 
their wives. I do not want to have anything to 
do with them." The king asked in surprise, " Why 
do you say that?" The maina said, "O king, listen 
to this story and you will understand." 

The Maina's Story 

Once upon a time there was a town called 
Ilapur. In it there lived a merchant named 
Mahadhan. He had no offspring. So to get a 
child he was always going on pilgrimages, making 
and fulfilling vows, practising austerities, offering 
gifts to temples and listening to religious discourses. 
At last through God's mercy a son was born to 
him. When the boy grew up, his father married 
him with great pomp and ceremony and gave huge 
sums of money to Brahmans. He also fed hand- 
somely bards, necromancers, singers, players, 
jugglers and such like, and gave large charities to 
beggars. After the wedding festivities were over, 
Mahadhan sent his son back to school. But such 
was the boy's nature that he continually played 
truant, stopping on the way to gamble with other 

The Maina and the Parrot 39 

boys of his own age. When the boy had reached 
early manhood, Mahadhan died and his son became 
master of his wealth. Freed now from all restraint, 
the youth spent his days in gambling and his 
nights in riot. In this way he squandered away 
his fortune and got so bad a name that he was 
forced to flee from the country and take refuge in 
the town of Chandrapur. 

There he went to the house of a very respect- 
able trader called Hemgupta. The latter had 
known his father and after hearing the young 
man's story and satisfying himself by various 
questions that he really was Mahadhan's son he 
gave the youth a hearty welcome. Then he asked 
him why he had come to Chandrapur. The young 
man replied that he had bought a vessel full of 
merchandise, meaning to sell its cargo on a certain 
island. This he had done at a great profit and 
then had re-embarked with other merchandise up- 
on a ship returning to his own country. Suddenly 
a storm had arisen. The ship had foundered with 
all her cargo and all her crew. By good fortune 
he had seized a plank and clinging to it had 
reached the shore, all but drowned. "Now I am 
a beggar/' continued Mahadhan's son, "and I am 
ashamed to return to my own country." 

On hearing this tale, Hemgupta said to himself: 
"This is a piece of luck! My anxieties are now 
over. This good fortune must have come from 
the hand of God. The lad is of an ancient and 
honourable family. I shall give him my daughter 
in marriage." He mentioned the matter to his wife 

40 Tales of King Vikrama 

and she too agreed to the marriage. The merchant 
then sent for the family priest that he might 
choose an auspicious day. When it arrived, the 
merchant gave, to be the bride of this worthless 
gambler, his only daughter and with her he gave 
a large sum of money as her dowry. For some 
days they lived together as man and wife in 
Hemgupta's house. Then the gambler said to his 
wife, "It is a long time since I left my house. I 
feel homesick; for I want to know how they all 
are at home. Get your parents, I beg you, to let 
me go. If you like you can come with me." 

The young wife went to her mother, "Mother," 
she said, "my husband wants to go home. Please 
tell this to my father and get him to let us go." 
The mother went to Hemgupta and induced him 
not only to agree to his daughter's going, but to 
give her a large sum of money for the journey 
and a slave girl to look after her. As they went, 
they came to a thick wood. The gambler said, 
"My wife, I am afraid of robbers. Give me your 
jewels. I shall hide them in my belt and give 
them back to you at the first village we come to." 
The young wife handed over her jewels. Directly 
the gambler had got them, he threw himself upon 
the slavt girl and killing her with a single blow, 
flung her body into a well. Then he pushed his 
wife in after her, hoping to kill her too. Having 
done this, he made his way, as quickly as he could, 
to his own country. 

By the mercy of Heaven his wife was not 
hurt by her fall. Struggling to the side, she 

The Maina and the Parrot 41 

managed to scramble out of the water and sit up- 
on a ledge of rock. Then she began to scream 
for help at the top of her voice. A traveller who 
was passing through the wood heard her cries 
and going to the well looked into it and saw the 
young wife sitting weeping. He pulled her out 
and asked her who she was, and how she had fallen 
in. The young wife thought that if she told the 
truth, she would disgrace her husband. She there- 
fore said, I am the daughter of the merchant 
Hemgupta of Chandrapur. My father married me 
to the son of the Merchant Mahadhan of Ilapur. 
My husband was taking me to my house, when 
robbers suddenly attacked us. They killed my 
slave girl and stripping me of my ornaments threw 
me into the well. What happened afterwards to 
my husband, I do not know." 

The traveller took the young wife to her father's 
house and giving her into his care resumed his 
journey. She told her parents the same story 
that she had told the traveller. They tried to 
comfort her saying, "Do not lose heart, the robbers 
will let your husband go. Robbers do not kill 
people. They only rob them of their money." Her 
father then gave her new ornaments and promised 
her that she would shortly hear news of her hus- 
band. In the mean time, the latter had gone to 
his own town and was squandering, as before, his 
wife's money in riot and debauch. In no long- 
time, he was again a beggar. Then he thought 
that he would go to his father-in-law and announce 
to him the birth of a grandson. His father-in-law 

42 Tales of King Vikrama 

would be so pleased with the news that he would 
give him money and clothes for himself and jewelry 
for the child. In execution of this plan, he set forth 
and some days later came to his father-in-law's 
garden gate. His wife saw him and ran out saying, 
"My lord, fear nothing, I told my father that thieves 
attacked us, killed my slave girl and taking my 
jewels threw me into the well. You tell them the 
same story and it will be all right; the house is 
yours, and I am your servant." With these words 
she turned and went back into the house. Her 
husband went into the verandah. His father-in- 
law saw him and with a cry of joy ran to meet 
him and made him tell his story. The husband 
told the tale that his wife had taught him. And 
all the household rejoiced at his escape from the 
robbers. An hour or so later, the merchant's wife 
brought water for her son-in-law's bath, gave him 
a dish of five ambrosial ingredients* to eat and 
bade him be of good cheer. "Our house is yours," 
said the kindly old lady, "stay here as long as 
you like." But one night, the evening of a festival, 
the merchant's daughter went to bed with all her 
ornaments on. Her wicked husband waited until 
she was fast asleep. Then he cut her throat with 
a knife and taking her jewels fled back to his 
own country. 

When the maina had finished her tale, she said, 
"O king, this is not merely a story that I have 
heard. I actually saw everything happen, just as 

* Panchamrita, or the five ambrosial ingredients, consists 
of: ghee, sugar, milk, honey, curds. 

The Maina and the Parrot 43 

I told it to you. That is why I want to have 
nothing to do with men. For who welcomes a 
serpent into his house? Ask, O king, that parrot 
what harm that young wife ever did to the 
merchant's son." 

The king turned to the parrot and said, "Well 
parrot, what have you to say to that?" im O king," 
replied the parrot, "men are not treacherous at 
all; it is women who are treacherous. And to 
prove this I shall tell you the following story: 

The Parrot's Tale 

Once upon a time there was a town called 
Kachanpur. In it there lived a merchant called 
Sagardatta. He had a son called Shridatta who 
was married to Jayashri, the daughter of a Jaipur 
merchant named Sombhadra. Some time after 
Shridatta's marriage, he went on business to a 
distant city. He was absent for twelve years. In 
the meantime his wife Jayashri grew to be a 
woman. One day she said to her maid servant, 
"My youth is passing away in vain, I might as 
well never be married". The maid servant tried 
to console her, "Have patience, my mistress," she 
said, "God will soon send your husband back to 
you". But the young wife lost her temper. She 
went upstairs and stood by an upper window. 
Just then a young and handsome man was coming 
down the road. She looked hard at him. As he 
came near the house, their eyes met and each fell 
instantly in love with the other. The young wife 
called her maid and told her to arrange a meeting 

44 Tales of King Vikrama 

for her with the young man. The maid servant 
went into the street and said to him, " Sombhadra's 
daughter has lost her heart to you and bids you 
meet her at my house to-night". At the same 
time she gave the youth her address. The young 
man agreed. The maid told this to her mistress 
and said, "When he comes to-night I shall come 
and tell you and take you to my house". Then 
she went home and that night sat up waiting for 
the young man. When he came, she seated him 
in the verandah and going to Jayashri said, 
"Your beloved, my mistress, has come." The two 
women waited until past midnight. Then when 
all the inmates were asleep, they stole out of the 
merchant's house and went with the speed of 
lightning to that of the maid. Just before dawn 
the young wife went back to her own house and 
slipping into bed went fast asleep. 

Some days afterwards her husband came back 
from his travels and went to his father-in-law's 
house to take his wife to his own home. When 
Jayashri heard that he had come, she grew very 
sad and said to the maid, "What shall I do? 
Where shall I hide? If you can think of any 
means of escape, tell me. I can think of none/' 
"Alas," said the maid, "I can think of none either." 

All that day Jayashri was as sad as possible. 
That night her mother-in-law told her son-in-law 
to sleep in the guest's room. At the same time 
she told her daughter to sleep there too with her 
husband. Jayashri got very cross and turned up 
her nose and frowned. But her mother scolded 

The Maina and the Parrot 45 

her. So seeing no escape, she went to the guest's 
room. There she went to bed with her face to the 
wall. The nicer her husband was to her the more 
angry she became. He shewed her various 
wonderful things, that he had brought back for 
her from his travels. "Take them, my beloved," 
he said, "I brought them all for you. They are 
yours; but grant me in exchange just one little 
word and one little smile." Jayashri at this grew 
more angry than ever and scowling at her husband 
flung all his presents across the room. Shridatta 
in despair turned over and went to sleep. But 
Jayashri could not sleep a wink for thinking of 
the young man whom she had seen in the road 
from her upper window. 

When Shridatta had gone fast asleep, Jayashri 
got up and running boldly through the dark 
streets reached her maid's house. It so happened 
that a robber saw her and wondered where so 
well-dressed a woman could be going so late at 
night. He decided to follow her. It so happened 
that the young man had also gone to the maid's 
house in the hope of meeting Jayashri. But a 
snake had bitten him as he entered and he had 
fallen on the ground and died. Now a hobgoblin* 
who dwelt in a pipal tree close by, saw that the 
youth was dead. He promptly entered his body 
and putting his arms round Jayashri's neck bit 
her nose off and fled back to the pipal tree. The 
robber who had followed Jayashri saw all this 

* A pisacha. The pipal or ficus religiosa is a favourite 
dwelling place of pisachas and other ghost-like creatures. 

46 Tales of King Vikrama 

happen. But the unhappy Jayashri, wake with 
pain and loss of blood, went back to her own 
house and told her maid all that had passed and 
asked her what she should do. "It is not yet 
light," answered the servant girl, "slip back into 
bed and then begin screaming at the top of your 
voice. When the household come to see what is 
the matter, tell them that your husband has just 
cut your nose off. I can think of no other way." 

Jayashri, just as her maid had told her to do, 
slipped back into bed and began to call out as 
loudly as she could. The whole household rushed 
upstairs and saw that she had lost her nose. She 
turned on her husband, "You cruel wretch," she 
said, "why have you treated me like this you wicked, 
heartless man!" Shridatta could make no reply. 
"One should never put one's trust," he murmured, 
"in a changeable man, in riches, in the edge of a 
blade or in the word of an enemy; above all, one 
should never trust a woman. For women do 
things that even poets cannot imagine. Even the 
gods themselves cannot say when a horse will 
shy, when a cloud will thunder, what destiny awaits 
a man or how a woman will act. How, then, can 
a man know what the gods do not?" 

Sombhadra went at once and complained to 
the chief of Police. The latter sent some constables 
who brought Shridatta in chains before the king. 
The king asked Shridatta what he had to say. 
Shridatta replied, "O king, I know nothing what- 
ever about the matter". The king sent for Jaya- 
shri, who said, "Why ask me, O king, when you 

The Maina and the Parrot 47 

can see for yourself?" The king looked at her 
noseless face; then he turned to Shridatta and 
said, "You wicked man, how can I punish you 
enough for such a crime!" Shridatta answered, 
"O king, I am ready to accept whatever punish- 
ment you think just." The king straightway 
ordered him to be impaled. The police led him 
away and behind him the crowd followed. Among 
the crowd was the thief. He said to himself: "I 
must save this man, for he is about to be killed 
unjustly". He cried out, "Stop! Stop!" The king 
sent for him and asked him who he was and 
why he interfered. "O king," said the thief, 
"pardon me! for I am a thief, nevertheless, give 
heed to my prayer. The man whom you are 
sending to his death has committed no fault. 
If he is impaled, you will have acted unjustly." 
"If you know the truth," said the king, "say it." 
The thief told the king everything. The latter 
sent soldiers, who brought the dead body of the 
young man from the maid servant's house. In 
the king's presence they opened his mouth and 
from it fell the end of Jayashri's nose. Then all 
realised that she had falsely charged her husband. 
Then the thief said, "O king, it is the duty of the 
king not only to protect the innocent, but to punish 
the guilty". Straightway the king ordered Jaya- 
shri's head to be shaved and her face to be painted 
black. This done, she was mounted on an ass 
with her face to its tail and turned out of the 
city. Thereafter the king gave a robe of honour 
to her husband and rewarded the thief. 

48 Tales of King Vikrama 

When the parrot had finished his story, he said, 
"O king, ask the maina what wrong that man had 
done to his wife." 

At this point the oilman's son asked King 
Vikramajit "King Vikrama, tell me who are the 
worse, men or women?" The king answered, 
"Women are the worse. No matter how bad a 
man is, he yet respects public opinion and he fears 
to commit sin. But falsehood, daring, folly, greed, 
faithlessness and cruelty are women's natural 
qualities." When the king had finished speaking, 
he saw that he was alone. He realised that he 
had again broken his promise. He returned to 
the burning ground and saw as before the oilman's 
son hanging from a branch. He took it down 
and flinging it over his shoulder began to retrace 
his steps. As he went, the oilman's son began to 
tell his fifth tale. 



ONCE in the town of Ujjain there ruled a king 
called Mahabal. He had a messenger named 
Haridas and the messenger had a beautiful 
daughter whose name was Mahadevi. When 
she reached womanhood he began to think how he 
should find her a husband and so through her 
happiness win happiness himself. One day as he 
was thinking about her marriage, she herself went 
up to him and said, "My father, give me as a 
husband some youth endowed with all the virtues." 
"I shall try to, my daughter," answered Haridas. 
One day the king sent for Haridas and said to 
him, "In the Deccan I have a friend, King Hari- 
schandra. I want you to go to him and convey 
to him my salutations, and find out whether all 
is well with him. " Haridas did as the king bade 
him and gave to King Harischandra the message. 
King Harischandra was so pleased with him that 
he insisted on Haridas stopping with him for 
several days. 

One day King Harischandra said to Haridas, 
"O Haridas, has the Kaliyuga* begun yet?" Haridas 
folded his hands and said, "Certainly, O king, 

* According to Hindu belief there have been four ages. 
The Satyayuga, the Tretayuga, the Dwaparayuga, and the 
Kaliyuga. The Kaliyuga began after the battle of Kurukshetra 
between the Pandavas and :Duryodhan. It is the evil age 
and will endure for 432,000 years. At its close the world will 
be destroyed. 

50 Tales of King Vikrama 

we are now in the Kaliyuga. Wickedness is in full 
swing. Truth has lost all its value. Men speak 
soft words when they meditate treachery. No one 
observes any religion. Sons disobey their fathers, 
wives their husbands, princes their gods, subjects 
their rulers. Disrespect has taken the place of 
learning. Vice knows no bounds. Men live only 
for the present and steep themselves in wickedness 
and folly. They plot night and day to rob other 
men of their wives and their riches. Though a 
man be of high caste, yet if he is poor, he is without 
honour. The wise man to-day is the man who 
cheats his neighbour and grinds the faces of the 
poor. Only the wealthy are deemed holy. The 
man who gets money by crime is esteemed a saint. 
To have no money is to commit sin. The fool is he 
who refuses to cheat his friend. The brave king 
is he who drives another king from his kingdom. 
The traitor is the true statesman. The skilful 
prince is he who strips his subjects of their very 
clothes. The generous man is he who distributes 
bribes. If a man spares another's life after robbing 
him of everything he possesses, he is accounted 
noble. Kings spend their days in riotous living 
and hand over all the business of their kingdom 
to their ministers. They never consider the 
sufferings of their subjects and only shew favour 
to flatterers. They act just as their whims prompt 
them. Whatever words the king utters for sooth 
are sacred. Whatever his conduct is, it is righteous. 
In short, the real duty of the king, which is to 
protect his subjects, never enters the king's mind 

Mahadevi and the Giant 51 

even in his dreams. The gods too, because men 
have ceased to worship them, have ceased to act 
like gods. Men have weak and delicate children 
because they begin in boyhood to lead vicious 
lives. Men through their wickedness have lost 
their ancient vigour. The anchorites whom we 
see are but cut-throats disguised. Clever men 
anxious to get notoriety have started new ways 
and false ideas. They win the young and foolish 
to their side. Thus all kinds of evil practices 
flourish. Yes, without doubt this is the Kaliyuga!" 
King Harischandra was much impressed by this 
speech and complimented Haridas upon it. Then 
he went back to his palace. Shortly afterwards a 
Brahman youth went up to Haridas and said, "I 
have come, O best of men, to ask you to bestow 
upon me your accomplished daughter". "Young 
man," said Haridas, "I shall only give my daughter 
to that youth, who unites in his own person all 
the virtues. " The young Brahman replied, " I have 
mastered all the sciences." "If so," said Haridas, 
"give me some proof of it." The Brahman youth 
answered, "I have made a chariot that needs no 
horse to pull it. It will take you of itself to 
any spot you wish". "Show it to me to-morrow 
morning," said Haridas. 

The following morning the Brahman youth 
brought the chariot. He and Haridas entered it 
and in a very short time it brought them to Ujjain. 
On reaching his home Haridas learnt that his eldest 
son had promised in his absence to give his sister 
to another Brahman boy, who also possessed all 


52 Tales of King Vikrama 

the virtues and that his wife had promised Maha- 
devi to yet a third Brahman boy of no less merits. 
Haridas was deeply perplexed, for he could not 
decide to whom to give his daughter. He turned 
the matter over and over again, but he could not 
make up his mind. Some days later a giant* entered 
the house by night and seizing the girl carried her 
off to his home among the Vindhya mountains. For 
it has been said that excess in all things is an evil. 
It was because of her excessive beauty that Sita 
was carried off by Ravan. It was because of his 
excessive pride that Ravan and all his family 
perished. It was because of excessive generosity 
that Bali lost all his wealth. 

Next morning the household missed Mahadevi 
and searched everywhere for her in vain. At last 
Haridas asked the three suitors to look for her. 
One of them by his magic discovered that the giant 
had carried her off to the Vindhyas. The second 
suitor said, "I shall kill that giant and bring her 
back". The third said, "Get into my chariot. It 
will take you there and after you have killed the 
giant it will bring you back". The second suitor 
entered the chariot. It took him to the Vindhyas. 
There he fought the giant and killed him and 

* The original word is Rakshas. I think it is best rendered 
by either ' giant ' or 'ogre'. The meaning in the next sen- 
tence is a little obscure, but I understand it to be that the 
father should not have worried so much and taken so long 
to make up his mind. Had he decided earlier, the girl could 
have been married and would have gone to her husband's 
home before the Rakshas came. 

Mahadevi and the Giant 53 

afterwards brought back Haridas's daughter. Then 
all the three suitors began once more to quarrel, 
each claiming that he had done the most towards 
winning her. Again Haridas was perplexed, for 
he could not make up his mind to which of the 
three he ought to give Mahadevi. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "O king, 
to which of the three should Haridas have given 
her?" King Vikrama said, "To the one who 
fought and killed the giant." "Why?" asked the 
oilman's son. "Because," said the king, "the other 
two only helped him. Whereas he went and at 
the risk of his life fought the giant. So Haridas 
should have given the maid to him." 

When the king had finished speaking, he saw 
that he was alone. He remembered that he had 
again broken his promise, and knew that the dead 
body had gone back to the tree. He went back 
to the burning ground, placed it on his shoulder 
and once more started on his journey. As he 
went, the oilman's son began to tell his sixth tale. 



ONCE upon a time there was a town called 
Dharmapur. Over it ruled a king named Dha- 
rmashil, whose minister was called Andhak. 
One day the minister said, "O king, I pray 
you build a temple to Parvati and worship her 
image daily. In this way you will come by all your 
desires. So it is written in the sacred books." The 
king approved the minister's words and built a big 
temple and in it placed an image to Parvati, and 
every day he used to worship it exactly as holy 
books ordained. Indeed, he never would eat or 
drink until he had prayed at her shrine. One 
day the minister said to him, "It is said in the 
scriptures that equally empty are the home of a 
childless man, the heart of a fool and the house of 
a beggar." When the king heard this, he said to 
himself: "I have great possessions, yet because 
I have no son, my home is empty. I must devise 
some means by which I may get a son." With 
this in his mind, he went to the temple and began 
to pray to the goddess with folded hands and 
sing her praises. "You whom Brahmadev, Vishnu, 
Eudra and Indra adore day and night; you who 
slew Mahishasura, Chanda*, Munda, Kaktabij and 

* Chanda, Munda and Raktabij were companions of two 
even greater demons Shumbh and Nishumbh. Shumbh and 
Nishumbh had obtained from Brahmadev the boon that they 

Parvati and the Washerman's Bride 55 

other demons and so freed the earth from their 
oppression; you, who when evil overtakes your 
worshippers, spring to save them and drive away 
their sorrows; attracted by the fame of your 
glory, I have come here in the hope that you will 
grant me the prayer of my heart! Suddenly as 
the king prayed, a voice rang through the temple, 
"O king, I am pleased with your devotion and I 
am ready to grant you any boon that you ask of 
me". The king prostrated himself on the earth 
and said, ".Vouchsafe to me, O goddess, a son". 
"You will have a son," said the goddess, "a son 
both strong and fortunate." "So be it," murmured 
the king gladly. Thereafter he held a great festi- 
val in honour of the goddess and worshipped her 
according to the sixteen different kinds of worship, 
and daily offered to her image prayers that she 
might fulfil her promise. A year later, through 
the goddess's favour, a beautiful baby boy was born 
to his queen. The king was overjoyed and pro- 
claimed far and wide that the goddess of the tem- 
ple that he had founded, never failed to do what 
her worshippers asked of her. Now it so happened 
that a washerman's son from another town came 
to Dharmapur with a friend. As he was passing 
Parvati' s temple, a beautiful girl, of the same caste 

should never be destroyed by any mortal. They drove 
Indra and the lesser gods from their thrones. But Parvati 
created a beautiful female figure and sent her to their city. 
The demons fell in love with her and fighting to obtain her 
killed each other. 

Mahishasura was a demon with a buffalo's head whom 
Parvati killed. 

56 Tales of King Vikrama 

as himself, came towards him. When his eyes fell 
on her, he was so struck with her beauty that his 
wits left him. For a long time he stood unable to 
move. At last, he remembered the fame of the 
Dharmapur Parvati. He went into her temple 
and prostrating himself before her image, he cried, 
"O goddess, I have no hope but in thee! Have 
mercy and grant that I may win that beautiful 
maid. I vow that if thou hearest my prayer, I 
shall offer my head as a sacrifice at thy feet." He 
rose and prostrated himself, touching the ground 
with all eight members. Then he left the temple 
and returned with his friend to his own city. Even 
so he could not forget the image of the fair maiden. 
He could neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep and from 
day to day he wasted away. One day his friend 
seeing his unhappy state, related all that had 
happened to the washerman. The washerman 
thought to himself "If I cannot get the girl as my 
son's bride, he will die. I must at once take steps 
to bring about their marriage." 

Next day the washerman taking with him his 
son's friend went to Dharmapur. When he had 
found out where the girl's father lived, he went to 
him and said, "I have come to beg a favour of 
you". "Tell me what it is and, if I can, I shall grant 
it to you," said the girl's father. "I have come," 
answered the washerman, "to ask for your daughter 
as a bride of my son." The girl's father readily 
agreed. He sent for a Brahman who selected an 
auspicious day for the marriage. Then he said to 
the washerman, "Now go and bring your son as 

Parvati and the Washerman's Bride 57 

soon as you can. While you are away, I shall 
make all preparations for the wedding." The 
washerman went back joyfully to his own house, 
fetched his son, wife and near relatives and then 
returned with great pomp and circumstance to 
Dharmapur. There the marriage was celebrated 
and afterwards the bride went with her husband 
to the washerman's house. One day on the occa- 
sion of some family event, the husband and the wife 
and the husband's friend went to pay the bride's 
father a visit. When they reached Dharmapur, 
they passed by Parvati's temple. Suddenly the 
husband remembered the vow that he had made. 
He began to reproach himself for his wickedness 
in not having kept it. He turned to his wife and 
friend and said, "Wait here a moment while I say 
a prayer to Parvati." He went inside the temple 
bathed in the temple pool and prostrated himself, 
face downwards, before the image. Then he rose 
and drawing his sword cut his head off and flung 
it down at the feet of the goddess. His friend 
waited for him for some time and then went inside 
to see what he was doing. When he saw him ly- 
ing headless on the ground, he thought to himself? 
"People will say I killed him that I might marry 
his wife. I can only clear myself by offering my 
head to the goddess." Instantly, he cut his head 
off and threw it down before Parvati, just as his 
friend had done. The wife shortly afterwards got 
tired of waiting outside, so she also went into the 
temple. When she saw the two men lying dead, 
she said, "I shall never dare to shew my face to 

58 Tales of King Vikrama 

any one. People will say that I killed my husband 
and that to hide my crime I killed his friend." 
With these words she threw herself at full length 
before the goddess ; prayed a few words and then 
taking up her husband's sword was about to cut 
her head off. Suddenly the goddess appeared 
and seized her hand and said, "My daughter, I am 
pleased with you; ask me any boon you like". 
The young wife replied, "My mother! the boon 
that I ask of you is this: bring back to life my 
husband and his friend". "Put their heads on their 
bodies," said Parvati, "and they will at once come 
to life." The young wife was so delighted that by 
mistake she put her husband's head on his friend's 
body and his friend's head on her husband's body. 
Both came to life; but at once they began to quarrel 
with each other, each claiming the wife as his. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "O king, 
tell me to whom the wife belonged." King Vikrama 
answered, "It is written in the scriptures that the 
Ganges is chief among rivers, that Meru is chief 
among mountains, that the Wishing tree is chief 
among trees, and that the head is chief among the 
members. Therefore, the one to whom the wife 
gave her husband's head was her husband." When 
the king had finished speaking, he saw that he 
was alone. He understood that he had again 
broken his promise. Retracing his steps he went 
back to the burning ground and taking the dead 
body on his back, he set out again on his journey. 
As he went, the oilman's son began to tell his 
seventh tale. 



ONCE upon a time there was a town called 
Champapur. Its king was called Champesh war 
and the queen's name was Sulochana. They 
had a daughter called Tribhuvansundari. Her 
beauty was such that no words could describe it. 
Her face was like the full moon.* Her hair was like 
a dark cloud round it. Her eyes would have put a 
fawn's to shame. Her eye-brows were like bended 
bows. Her nose was like a parrot's beak. Her 
neck was like a pigeon's. Her lips were as soft 
and as pale as the seeds of a pomegranate. The 
colour of her skin was yellow gold like the blossom 
of the champak. And she was endowed with 
every grace both of mind and body. 

When she reached the spring of womanhood, 
her father began to debate on whom he should 

* This description of female beauty is not as absurd as it 
at first sight appears. The writer compares her face not 
with the shape, but with the beauty and brightness of the 
full Eastern moon. Byron does the same, e. g. 
" She walks in beauty like the night 

Of cloudless climes and starry skies," 

Tribhuvansundari's nose was not hooked. But the tip of 
her nose had a perfect symmetry and was perfectly rounded 
like a parrot's beak. Her neck was like a pigeon's because 
she was "deep bosomed" a quality admired by both East 
and West, e.g. 

"The tall deep bosomed women 
The children nine and ten." 


60 Tales of King Vikrama 

bestow his lovely daughter. He sent heralds to 
the kings of the neighbouring countries. They 
announced that King Champeshwar sought a 
husband for his daughter, now reached womanhood, 
and that her beauty was such that it would charm 
away the wits alike of sages and magicians. When 
the kings heard the message of the heralds, they 
had at once their likenesses painted and sent them 
by the hands of Brahmans to King Champeshwar. 
The latter shewed the portraits, one after the other, 
to his daughter, but she did not like any one of 
them. Her father said, "What sort of husband do 
you want?" "Give me a husband," she said, "in 
whom are combined beauty, strength and wisdom." 
The king searched everywhere to find such a 
husband. Some days afterwards four kings came 
from their own country, each in the hope of winning 
Tribhuwansundari. After the king had welcomed 
them, he said, "Let each of you display to me your 
wisdom and your merits". 

One of them at once answered, "O king, listen 
and you shall hear how wise I am. Each day I 
weave a garment which I sell for five precious 
stones. Of these I give one as an offering to the 
Brahmans. The second I offer to the gods. The 
third I wear myself. The fourth I put aside for 
my wife. The fifth I sell, and with the money I 
prepare myself a splendid banquet. No one else 
has such skill as I have. As for my beauty, you 
can see it for yourself. There is no need for me 
to talk about it." 

The second king then said, "I know the tongues 

Princess Tribhuvansundari 61 

of all birds, beasts and fishes, whether in the sky 
or on the earth or in the sea. Moreover no man 
is as strong as I am. As for my looks, you can 
judge for yourself." 

The third king said, "I know the sacred books 
better than any one living, and whether I am hand- 
some or not, it is for you to say." 

The fourth king said, "I am the most skilful 
man-at-arms in all India. I can shoot and kill my 
foe merely on hearing his voice, even though I do 
not see him. My beauty is renowned all over the 
earth. You can see for yourself whether it de- 
serves its fame." When the king had heard the 
the speech of each of the four suitors, he was 
again perplexed. "All four, he said," have equal 
merits. To whom shall I give my daughter?" 
Then he went to his daughter's room and told her 
the claims of each of the four kings and begged 
her to choose one among them. Tribhuwansundari 
blushed and drawing her sari across her face, she 
looked down upon the ground. But she said 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama, which of the four kings should she have 
chosen?" King Vikrama answered, "He who 
wove garments was a Sudra by caste. He who 
knew the tongues of birds, beasts and fishes was 
a Vaishya by caste. He who knew the sacred 
books was a Brahman.* But he who was the 

* The Brahman is the priestly caste. The Kshatriya is 
the warrior or ruling caste. The Vaishya is or was the 
agricultural caste. The Sudra is the lowest caste. 


Tales of King Vikrama 

skilled man at arms was a Kshatriya. He was 
of the same caste as the princess and, therefore, he 
alone was fitted to be her husband. When the 
king had finished speaking, he saw that he was 
alone. He realised that he had again broken his 
promise. Going back to the tree, he flung the 
dead body across his shoulders. Then once more 
he retraced his steps. As he did so, the oilman's 
son began to tell eighth tale. 



ONCE upon a time there was a town called 
Mithilavati. Its king was called Gunadip. 
One day a Rajput called Viramdeva went to 
the king to obtain a post in his service. He 
every day sought an interview, but he never was 
admitted. At last he had exhausted all the money 
that he had brought with him from home. And he 
had the greatest difficulty in getting enough food 
to keep himself alive. One day the king mounted 
his horse and went out hunting. Viramdeva 
joined unnoticed the crowd of attendants. As luck 
would have it, the king got separated from his 
huntsmen and Viramdeva was the only one who 
remained near him. He called to the king, "O 
Maharaja! all your horsemen have left you. lam 
the only one with you." The king looked back 
and seeing that the Rajput was right, pulled up 
his horse. Viramdeva rode up to him. The king 
looking at him said, "Why are you so thin?" "O 
Maharaja," said Viramdeva, "the master whom I 
serve has a thousand servants to feed and clothe. 
If he does not look after me, it is because of sins 
committed by me in a former life; my master is 
in no way to blame. When day dawns all men 
begin to see, but the owl grows blind. Is that the 
sun's fault? I know that the God who cared for 
me in my mother's womb is neither dead nor 
asleep. He still lives and is awake. If a man 

64 Tales of King Vikrama 

begs money from another, it does not follow that 
he will get it. Even if a rich man should have 
pity on his evil plight, he will make a wry mouth 
before he gives alms. He will frown; he will taunt 
me with cruel words. For my part, I would sooner 
die than dishonour myself by taking such a gift. 
Again to make friends of fools, to laugh without 
reason, to quarrel with one's wife, to serve a poor 
master, to frequent low company, to use foul words, 
all these disgrace a man. On the other hand, a 
man's future, a man's former life, the wisdom, the 
riches and the fame to which he may attain are 
all written on his forehead. So long as a man's 
good fortune is in the ascendant, the whole world 
is his slave. But when ill fortune overtakes a 
man, his own brother turns on him. One thing 
alone is certain. To serve a good master faithfuHy 
is never without its reward." 

The king listened attentively to what the Rajput 
said, but he did not answer him. "I am very hun- 
gry," he said suddenly, "get me something to eat." 
Viramdeva replied, "My lord king, I cannot get 
you bread here. But I shall see if I can get you 
anything else." With these words he went into 
the forest and after hunting for some time killed 
a stag. Taking a flint from his pocket, he lit a 
fire. Over it he roasted the venison. Some of 
it he gave to the king and some he ate himself. 
After their meal, the king said, "Take me home, I 
do not know in what direction my city lies". The 
Rajput mounted his horse and leading the way 
took the king safely back to his palace. There 

King Gunadip and Viramdeva 65 

the king gave him jewelry and clothes and a post 
in the royal service. Thereafter he was always in 
attendance on the king. One day, the king sent 
Viramdeva on some duty which took him to the 
sea-coast. There he saw a temple to Parvati. He 
went inside, worshipped at the shrine and came 
out again. As he was walking away, a fair woman 
came up and said, "Tell me, good sir, why you 
have come here." The Rajput was so struck with 
her beauty that he could only mutter that he had 
gone there to pass the time. The fair woman 
said, "If you care for me, bathe in the temple 
pool. After you have bathed, I shall gladly listen 
to anything you wish to say to me." Viramdeva 
went back again inside the temple. He bathed 
in the pool and came out again. On looking 
round he saw to his astonishment that he was 
back again in the capital. He went home, changed 
his clothes and obtained an interview with the 
king. To him he told all that had passed in the 
temple by the seashore. "You must take me 
there," cried the king, "and shew me this marvel." 
Both mounted their horses and started. After 
some days' journey they reached the sea-coast. 
They entered the temple and worshipped Parvati. 
When the king came out, he saw the same fair 
woman, but this time a maid servant accompanied 
her. The fair woman went up to the king and 
struck by his handsome face said, "My lord the 
king, I am ready to do anything you wish me to." 
"If that is so," answered the king, "be the bride of 
my attendant." "My lord the king," said the fair 

66 Tales of King Vikrama 

woman, "I have fallen in love with you, how then 

can I marry your attendant?" "But," retorted the 
king, "you said just now to me that you were 
ready to do anything I wished. True women keep 
their promises. Keep, therefore, yours and wed 
this Rajput." "As you will," said the fair woman 
with a sigh, "I bow to my lord's command." 
Straightway, the king married her to Viramdeva 
by the rites of the Gandharva marriage. Then 
he took them both home with him to his capital. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama, whose was the greater merit, the king's 
or his attendant's?" "His attendant's," answered 
King Vikrama. "Surely," said the oilman's son, 
"the king's was; for he resigned the beautiful 
woman to his servant." "No," said the King 
Vikrama. "To be grateful is the duty of a king. 
Therefore, in shewing his gratitude, the king did 
no more than his duty. But when Viramdeva 
saved the king's life out hunting, he was not his 
attendant, and therefore, did more than his duty. 
His, therefore, was the greater merit." At this 
point the king saw that he was alone. He realised 
that he had again broken his promise. He there- 
fore returned to the burning ground and throwing 
the dead body over his shoulder began to retrace 
his steps. As he did so, the oilman's son began 
to tell his ninth tale. 



ONCE upon a time there was a town called 
Mandanpur. Over it ruled a king named 
Virvar. In it also lived a Vaishya named 
Hiranyadatta who had a daughter called 
Madansena. One spring day she went with her 
maid servants to play in her garden. By a strange 
chance it so happened that just then one Somadatta 
the son of a merchant named Dharmadatta was 
walking with a friend. In the course of his walk 
he came to the garden. Directly he saw Madansena, 
he fell head over ears in love with her. He turned 
to his friend and said, "If I can marry that lovely 
maiden, my love will have won its crown. But if ' 
I cannot, my life is worthless." Then unable to 
control himself, he ran into the garden and taking 
Madansena by the hand he cried, "If you will not 
bestow your love on me, I shall take my life." 
44 That would be a dreadful sin," cried Madansena, 
"do not do it." "Yes, what you say is true," answered 
the youth. "But my whole body is on fire for 
love of you. Such are my torments that the words 
sin and merit have no longer any meaning. I 
shall surely kill myself if you do not hold out 
some hope that you will love me in return." 

Madansena distracted by pity for the youth 
and by the fear that he would kill himself said, 
"I am to be married five days from now. But I 
promise to go and see you and bid you goodbye 


68 Tales of King Vikrama 

before I go to my husband's house". Then turning 
away she ran back to her house as fast as she 
could. Somadatta too turned back and went 

Five days afterwards Madansena was married. 
She found no opportunity of slipping away to 
say goodbye to Somadatta. Much against her 
wish she went to her husband's house. That 
night she told her husband of the promise she 
had made to Somadatta. "If you wish to bid him 
goodbye," said her husband, "go and do so now." 
Madansena left the house and took the road 
leading to Somadatta's house. As she went a 
robber saw her and pleased at the prospect of a 
rich booty went up to her and said, " Where are 
you going so late at night, so richly dressed and 
jewelled?" Madansena answered, "I am going 
to see a friend". "Is no one going with you?" 
said the robber. Madansena told him of the 
promise that she had made to Somadatta. "I 
know," she said, " that you are a robber, but this 
time please let me go. I promise you that when 
I return I shall giye all my jewelry to you." 

The robber thought for a moment; then he 
said to himself: "She must come back by the same 
road and then she will give me her jewels. For 
as she is only going to bid a friend goodbye, she 
cannot stay there, and this is the only path by 
which she can return." The thief, therefore, stayed 
where he was and waited for her to come back. 
Madansena went on until she reached Somadatta's 
house. She roused him. He woke with a start. 

Somadatta and Madansena 69 

"Fair girl," he said in his bewilderment: "Are you 
the daughter of a god or of a magician or are you 
a serpent maiden from Patala?* Why have you 
come?" "Nay," said Madansena with a smile, "I 
am but a human maid, my father is Hiranyadatta, 
my name is Madansena ; but you have forgotten 
me. Not so long ago you took my hand and made 
me swear that I would come and bid you goodbye. 
If you still care for me, I am ready to stay with 
you always." "But," said Somadatta, "did you 
tell your husband that you were coming?" "Yes," 
said Madansena, "I told him everything." A great 
wave of pity then came over Somadatta for the 
brave girl who had gone through so much to keep 
her promise to him. "No, dear maid," he said, 
"you belong to your husband; you must not stay 
with me." Madansena turned away and slipping 
from the house went back the way she had come. 
As she went she met the robber and told him 
everything. The robber was so struck with the 
tale that he would take nothing from her. She 
continued her journey until she reached her home. 
There she told her husband all that had befallen 
her. The husband took her back and forgave her 
everything. For as he said, "Chastity is the glory 
of the wife. Its song is the glory of the nightingale. 
And forgiveness is the glory of the righteous man". 

* Nag Kanya. These are the maidens of the race of the 
Nagas who are said to have sprung from Kadru wife of 
Kasyapa. Patala is the lowest of the seven underground 
regions. The others are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Mahatala, 
Rasatala and Talatala. 


Tales of King Vikrama 

When the oilman's son had reached this point, 
he said to King Vikrama, "O king, who do you 
think had the greater merit of those three persons?" 
"The robber," answered the king. "But why?" 
asked the oilman's son. "Because the husband 
knew that he would not gain his wife's love by 
scolding her. So he let her go. Somadatta sent 
her away because he feared for his own reputation 
and the punishment which the king might inflict 
on him if she stayed with him. The robber had 
no such motive. He would not rob her because 
he honoured her courage and innocence. The 
robber's, therefore, was the greatest merit." 

At this point the king saw that he was alone. 
He remembered that he had again broken his 
promise. He went back to the burning ground 
and found the dead body- hanging as before to 
the tree. He took it down and flinging it across 
his back began once more to retrace his steps. 
As he did so, the oilman's son began to tell his 
tenth tale. 


ONCE upon a time there was a city in Bengal 
called Vardhaman. Over it ruled a king 
called Gunshekhar. His minister Abhya- 
chandra was a Jain, and through his teaching 
he converted the king to Jamism. The king forbade 
the worship of Vishnu and Shiva and the offering 
of gifts to them. He also proclaimed that no one 
should throw the charred bones of the dead into 
the Ganges river, and he warned his subjects that 
he would confiscate the goods of all who disobey- 
ed his orders and that he would drive them from 
the kingdom. 

Some time afterwards the minister expounded 
to the king the Jain doctrines, "If any one, O king," 
said the minister, "takes another's life, the other, 
in a future life, will take his. Not only that, but 
as a punishment for his sin he can never escape 
from the torments of this world. He will go on 
dying and being born again through all eternity. 
All men, therefore, should become Jains. For even 
Brahmadev, Vishnu and Shiva have either through 
love, anger or greed been forced at different times 
to take human shapes. The cow is far above the 
gods. She never becomes the slave of love, illu- 
sion or greed. She supports mankind and her 
sons after her confer benefits on men. Thus men 
and gods and sages honour her. It is of no use 
to worship the gods. One should only worship 

72 Tales of King Vikrama 

cows; and one should protect men, beasts, birds, 
and other living things. This and no other is the 
true religion. He who eats the flesh of animals 
will in the end go to hell. They who, without 
thinking of the pain they cause, kill and eat inno- 
cent creatures will never prosper. In their next 
life they will be born crippled, lame, squint-eyed, 
blind, dumb, hunchbacked or sickly and will live 
miserably. Those who eat the flesh of animals 
will themselves be eaten by animals." The 
minister by talking in this strain so swayed the 
king's mind, that he entered a Jain monastery 
and passing completely under the influence of the 
Jain monks, disregarded utterly Brahmans and 
anchorites, mendicants and ascetics. 

The king ruled for some years and then died 
suddenly. After him his son Dharmadwaja mount- 
ed the throne. He disliked the Jain faith. So he 
seized the minister who had converted his father. 
He ordered his head to be shaved and his face to 
be blackened. The king then mounted him on a 
starving donkey, and parading him through the 
streets, proclaimed that he would thus punish all 
who observed the Jain religion. Lastly he ex- 
pelled him from the kingdom and restored the 
old Hindu faith. One day, in the spring of the 
year King Dharmadwaja had taken his wives to 
admire the beauty of one of his gardens. In the 
garden was a pool and on the pool floated lotus 
flowers. The king rejoicing in the beauty of his 
garden, took off his robes and bathed in the pool. 
He plucked one of the lotus flowers and taking it 

King Gunshekhar 73 

to the bank offered it to one of his queens. Un- 
happily it slipped from his hand and falling on 
the queen's foot broke it. The king ordered her 
to be treated very carefully until she got well. 
That same night the rays of the rising moon fell 
upon the second queen and blistered her skin. 
Next morning the noise of a neighbour pounding 
rice reached the ears of the third queen. It gave 
her such a violent headache that she fell into a 
dead faint. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "Which of 
the three queens, King Vikrama, was the most 
delicate?" "She who fainted on hearing the noise 
of rice pounded," answered the king. When he 
had finished speaking, he saw that he was alone. 
He remembered that he had again broken his 
promise. He went back to the burning ground 
and saw the dead body hanging from the tree. 
He took it down and flinging it'across his shoulders 
began to retrace his steps. As he did so, the oil- 
man's son began to tell his eleventh tale. 



THERE was once upon a time a town called 
Punyapur. Over it ruled a king called 
Vallabharam. His prime minister's name 
was Satyaprakash. One day the king said 
to his minister, "He who being a king does not 
enjoy the society of pretty girls might just as well 
not be a king at all." With these words he handed 
over the whole business of his kingdom to his 
prime minister, and throwing aside all his cares 
spent all his days among the fairest faces in India. 
One day the prime minister was sitting sadly 
in his house. His beautiful wife Laxmi came to 
him and said, "My lord, why do you look so care- 
worn and weary?" "Because," answered her 
husband, "I am anxious about the king. He 
passes the whole of his time in pleasure, and I 
have become quite ill through his anxiety as to 
his future." "If that is so, my lord," said Laxmi, 
"you should go on a pilgrimage to some shrine. 
For many years you have served the king. It 
is time that you enjoyed a holiday." For a 
time the minister thought over his wife's counsel. 
When he next went to see the king, he begged 
and obtained leave to go on a pilgrimage. In the 
course of it he came to Setubandh Rameshwaram.* 
After he had worshipped at the shrine, he left the 

* The extreme southerly point of India. 

King Vallabharam and the Sea Maiden 75 

temple. He looked out over the ocean. Suddenly 
he saw a very strange thing. In the middle of 
the sea stood a tree with an ebony trunk. Its 
leaves were emeralds. Its flowers were of coral 
and its fruits topazes. His wonder grew when he 
noticed that sitting on the top of the tree was a 
beautiful girl who played on a lute and sang to it a 
low, lilting song. The tree remained above the sea 
for about a quarter of an hour. Then it slowly dis- 
appeared beneath the waves. The minister was so 
amazed at what he had seen that that very day he 
set out to return to his own city. Prostrating him- 
self before the king with clasped hands, he cried, 
"My lord king, I have seen a marvellous thing." 
"Tell me about it," said the king. "But," said the 
minister, "if I tell this story stranger than what 
men see in their wildest dreams men will deem 
me mad. Yet what I am about to tell you I have 
seen with my own eyes." Then he told the king 
all about the strange tree and the sea maiden 
whom he had seen sitting and singing upon it. 
When he had ended his tale the king instantly 
handed over his kingdom to his minister and started 
alone for the South. After some days he reached 
the seashore near Rameshwaram. He went inside 
the temple and worshipped at the shrine. When 
he came out he looked across the waters and, just 
as his minister had done, he saw the jewelled tree 
with the beautiful maid upon it standing in the 
middle of the ocean. Directly the king saw it, he 
sprang into the sea and swimming out to the tree 
climbed into its branches. As soon as he had 

76 Tales of King Vikrama 

done so, the tree sank right down below the sea 
to Patala. When it stopped, the beautiful maiden 
said to him, "Brave man, what led you to come 
here?" "I fell in love with your beauty," answered 
the king, "and I have followed you in the hope of 
winning you for my bride." "I am ready to be 
your bride," said the maiden, "but only on one 
condition. You must always promise to leave me 
upon the fourteenth day of the dark half of the 
month." The king promised and they were at once 
married by the Gandharva marriage rites. When 
the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month 
came, the sea maiden said to the king, "To-day 
you must leave me." The king agreed and going 
away, hid himself in a spot where he could see 
everything without being seen. At midnight he 
saw a giant come in and offer to kiss his wife. 
Instantly the king rushed at the giant, "Vile 
giant," he cried, "do not dare to touch my wife. 
First do battle with me. I fear you not. Before 
seeing you I might have feared to fight a giant, 
but now I fear nothing." 

As he spoke the king slashed so fiercely at the 
giant's neck that with a single stroke he severed 
his enemy's head from his body. When his wife 
saw what he had done she cried joyfully: "My 
brave husband, you do not know how grateful 
I am to you! For just as jewels are not to be found 
on every mountain, nor sandalwood trees in every 
forest, nor pearls in the head of every elephant, 
so heroes are not to be found in every city." "But," 
asked the king, "why did that giant come on the 

King Vallabharam and the Sea Maiden 77 

fourteenth day of the dark half of the month?" 
" Listen," answered the sea maiden, "and I shall 
tell you. My name is Sundari. My father is an 
immortal.* It was his custom never to eat his 
dinner without me beside him. One day I was 
not at home at dinner time. My father grew very 
angry. He cursed me saying that a giant would 
come to persecute me on the fourteenth of the 
dark half of every month. When I heard his 
curse, I cried to him: 'My father, have pity on me 
and take back the curse that you have laid on me'. 
He said in answer, 'If the husband whom you 
marry is really a brave man, he will kill the giant 
and free you from my curse* and, as he foretold, 
so it has happened. Now I must go to my father 
and make obeisance to him." 

The king said, "If you are really grateful to me, 
you must repay me by coming with me to see my 
city. Thereafter you can go and see your father." 
The sea maiden agreed. The king took her to his 
capital. When the news spread that the king was 
returning, his people beat drums, played music 
and rejoiced. Beggars gathered together to receive 
alms and give him their blessings. And the king 
scattered largesse on all sides. After some days 
had passed, Sundari said, "My lord king, I want 
to go and see my father." The king grew very 
sad and began to sigh deeply. "Very well," he 
said, "go if you will." Sundari felt pity for him 
and answered: "No, I shall not go." "Why not?" 

* A Vidhyadhara in the original (See Tale 15). 

78 Tales of King Vikrama 

asked the king. "My father," said Sunclari, "is an 
immortal. I have become the wife of a mortal, 
whom he will despise. So I shall not go." When 
the king heard her words he was so delighted 
that he distributed lakhs of rupees in charity. 
But when the minister came to know of her 
resolve, his heart burst within his breast and he 
died instantly. 

At this point the oilman's son said: "King 
Vikrama, tell me what it was that killed the 
minister. "The minister feared," answered King 
Vikrama, "that the king would spend all his days 
in the society of the new queen and would, for 
the rest of his life, neglect the affairs of the state. 
Ruin would overtake his subjects, deserted by 
their king. It was this fear that killed him." 
When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he 
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had 
again broken his promise. He went back to the 
burning ground and flinging the dead body over 
his shoulder began once more to retrace his 
steps. As he went, the oilman's son began to 
tell his twelfth tale. 



ONCE upon a time there was a town called 
Chudapur. In it there lived a king called 
Chudamani. He had a guru or spiritual 
teacher named Devaswami and a son called 
Hariswami. The latter was as beautiful as Kamdev 
the god of love; he was as learned in the sacred 
books as Brihaspati the teacher of the gods, and 
he was as rich as Kuber the god of wealth. The 
king married his son to the daughter oia neighbour- 
ing king called Krishnaswami. Her name was 
Lavanyavati. She was a beautiful girl and both 
prince and princess loved each other and were as 
happy as possible. 

One summer night the prince and princess 
went to sleep on the terrace of a house in the 
woods. As the princess slept her bedclothes slipped 
off to one side, exposing her beautiful face. Now 
it so chanced that a Gandharva* was just then 
riding through the sky in his air chariot. Looking 
down, his gaze fell on the lovely princess and 
instantly he fell in love with her. Silently he 
brought his chariot down until it rested close to 
where the princess slept. Then lifting her up so 
skilfully that she never woke, he placed her in 
his air chariot and soared into the heavens. 

* See ante the note to tale I. 


Princess Lavanyavati & the Gandharva 81 

When prince Harisvvami awoke, he noticed 
that his wife was no longer near him. Alarmed 
lie went downstairs and began to search the house, 
but it was of course hopeless to search for one 
whom a Gandharva had borne away. He returned 
to his father's city and searched in every lane and 
street, At last he began to despair. "Some one/' 
he said, "must have taken her away, but where he 
took her I cannot guess." Going home he sat 
down and began to weep and lament. Then twice 
more he searched the whole town through, but all 
in vain. When he again returned to his palace it 
seemed a desert without his beloved bride, so he 
sat down more despairing than ever. "My 
Beloved," he mourned, "you who were so good and 
sweet, I cannot live without you." So he wailed 
for days together. At last his grief became more 
than he could bear. He rose and abandoning his 
house, rank and wealth, he became a wandering 
beggar. He flung aside his princely robes and put 
on nothing but a loin cloth. Then smearing his 
body with ashes he left the city and bareheaded 
and all but naked he roamed from shrine to shrine 
and from one town to another. One day he went 
faint with hunger with a begging bowl in his hand 
to the house of a Brahman and asked for food. 
Now a beggar should go to a rich man's house and 
not to that of a poor Brahman. But when a man 
is distracted with love, he can think neither of his 
caste nor his religion, nor does he care what or 
when or where he eats or drinks. The Brahman 
bade his wife give the beggar some food. So she 

, 6 

82 Tales of King Vikrama 

poured some milk into his begging bowl. With it 
Hariswami went to a banian tree by the edge of 
a lake and putting his bowl on the ground went 
fast asleep. It so chanced that a snake crept out 
and drank up part of the milk without Hariswami 
seeing it. When the prince woke up, he drank 
the poisoned milk and died very soon afterAvards. 
At this * point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama, who was to blame for the prince's death? 
Was it the Brahman, the wife or the snake?" 
"None of them," answered king Vikrama indig- 
nantly. The Brahman did an act of charity. His 
wife obeyed her husband's order. The snake was 
a poisonous snake and could not help being so. 
For that was its nature. Nor was Hariswami 
guilty of suicide. For ho did not know that the 
snake had touched the milk. "Indeed," continued 
King Vikrama growing more and more heated, 
"if anyone were to fasten the guilt of the prince's 
death on any one of those four persons he himself 
would be the guilty one." When King Vikrama 
had said this, he sa\v that he was alone. Realising 
that he had once more broken his promise, he 
went back to the burning ground. The dead body 
was as before hanging from the branch. Flinging 
it over his shoulder he began to retrace his steps. 
As he went the oilman's son began to tell his 
thirteenth tale. 



NCE upon a time there was a town called 
Chandrakanti. Over it ruled a king called 
Nardharnamak; and in it lived a merchant 
called Makaradhwaja who had a daughter 
named Shobhani. She was a beautiful girl and 
from day-to-day her beauty increased. It so 
happened that a number of thefts began to occur 
all over the city. Many rich people were ruined 
by these thefts. At last the whole town .went to 
the king's palace to complain of the trouble and loss 
that they had suffered. "We will not stay here 
any longer," they cried angrily to the king. "Nay," 
said the king soothingly, "what has happened has 
happened. It cannot be helped now. But I promise 
that you will not be troubled any more." The crowd 
was pacified and dispersed. The king then called his 
police and instructed them how they should patrol 
the city. He also ordered them to kill any thief 
they caught at once without waiting for his per- 
mission. The police carried out his commands 
and did their best to protect the citizens. Still 
the thefts continued. Again all the merchants 
and traders gathered together outside the palace. 
"Lord King," they cried> "you have posted patrols 
all over the city. But the thefts instead of stop- 
ping are as bad as ever/* The king dismissed the 
crowd saying, "Go now, to-night I shall myself 
patrol the city." 

84 Tales of King Vikraina 

When night came the king took his sword and 
shield and began to walk about through the town. 
Suddenly he saw a robber come towards him. 
He called out to the robber, "Who are you?" "I 
am a robber," was the answer. "Who are you?" 
" I too am a robber," replied the king. The robber 
was pleased at the reply and said, "Come along 
then; that is all right. We will both go and rob 
together." The king agreed, and after walking 
and talking with the robber for some little distance, 
helped him to break into a house. After they had 
robbed it, they robbed several other houses in the 
same way. When they had collected considerable 
spoil, the robber led the king outside the city to a 
well. He and the king descended into the well. 
Inside it was a door that led into a cavern. The 
robber posted the king at the door, while he him- 
self took the booty inside. After the robber had 
gone, a slave girl came out and seeing the king 
said, "My lord king, what has brought you here 
in the company of that villain? Run away from 
here as quickly as you can, otherwise he will kill 
you directly he comes out," "I do not know the 
way/' answered the king, "so I cannot run away." 
The slave girl shewed him the way out and the 
king returned to the palace. 

Next morning the king called out his army and 
going to the well blockaded all the roads leading 
to it and the cavern. When the robber found that 
he could not get out of the cave, he went to the 
lord of it who was a giant, "My lord," he said 
to the giant, "the king is attacking our cavern, 

Shobhani and the Robber 85 

you must help me, otherwise I shall have to desert 
you, and you will lose all your treasure and good 
name." The giant laughed and said, "I am de- 
lighted to hear what you tell me. You have 
brought me a splendid meal and I am very grate- 
ful to you." With these words the giant rushed 
out of the cavern and began to eat up the army, 
men, horses and elephants, as fast as he could. A 
panic seized the troops. Those who could, fled. 
The others were all eaten up by the giant. 

The king was running away all alone, when 
the robber called after him, "What! you a king's 
son and afraid! Shame on you!" When the king 
heard the robber's taunt, he turned and faced him. 
After a fierce fight the king wounded the robber 
and overcame him. He tied his hands and feet 
together and dragged him back to the city. There 
he had the robber's head shaved. He then seated 
him on a camel and after parading him about the 
streets, ordered him to be impaled. The citizens 
were delighted and shouted after the robber, "You 
are the man who stole all our property and now 
you are going to be impaled!" 

When the procession was passing the house of 
the merchant Makaradhwaj a, his daughter Shobhani 
heard the noise and asked her slave girl what 
it was. The slave girl told her that accord- 
ing to the king's orders they were taking away 
the robber who had committed so many thefts in 
the town and were going to impale him. When 
Shobhani heard this, she looked out, Seeing how 
young and handsome the robber was, she fell in 

<SB Tales of King Vikrama 

love with him. She ran to her father and said, 
"My father, you must go to the king and some- 
how or other you must get him to spare that rob- 
ber's life!" 

"My child/' answered the merchant, "how can 
I? The man has been robbing the whole town. 
Numbers of townsmen have lost their lives. 
The king will never listen to me." Shobhani 
answered, "If you offer the king all your riches, 
he will surely spare the robber. If you do not, I 
shall kill myself." 

The merchant went to the king, "My lord king," 
he said, "take five lakhs of rupees and let the 
robber go." The king got very angry and said, 
"This is fine talk. You want me to let go this 
ruffian who has ruiued my capital. I shall never- 
let him go ! never ! " 

The merchant returned to his daughter and 
said, "My daughter, I said all I could to the king, 
but he would not listen to me." Just then the 
police brought the robber to the place where they 
were going to impale him. There they told him 
how the merchant's daughter had tried to save 
him. When he heard the story, he first burst into 
tears. Then he began to laugh loudly. A minute 
or two later the police impaled him. 

When, he was dead, Shobhani made a funeral 
pyre. Then going to the gallows she took down 
the robber's dead body and took it with her to 
the burning ground. As she was, lighting the pyre, 
the Goddess Parvati appeared before her and said: 
"My daughter, I have seen your courage and I am 

Shobhani and the Robber 87 

pleased with you. Ask a boon and it will be 
granted to you." "Great Goddess," answered the 
maid, "the boon that I ask of you is that you 
restore this man to life." 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama, why did that robber first weep and then 
laugh?" "Listen," said King Vikrama, "and I shall 
tell you. He wept because he thought that he could 
never shew his gratitude to the maid who to save 
him had offered all her wealth to the king. Then 
he thought how wonderful were the ways of 
Providence that a woman should feel love for him 
when he was about to die. For Providence does 
odd things, bestowing wealth on the unlucky, 
wisdom on the lowly, and beautiful wives on the 
ugly. And as he thought of all the strange things 
that Heaven orders, he could not restrain his 
laughter." When King Vikrama had finished, he 
saw that he was alone. Then he realised that he 
had again broken his promise. He returned to 
the burning ground and flinging the dead body 
over his shoulder, he began once more to retrace 
his steps. As he went, the oilman's son began his 
fourteenth tale. 


ONCE upon a time there was a town called 
Kusumavati. Over it ruled a king called Su- 
vichar. His daughter's name was Chandra- 
prabha. One day after she had reached the 
spring of womanhood, she set out with her compa- 
nions to admire the beauty of a certain garden. 
Every precaution had been taken to prevent men 
from entering the garden. But it so chanced that 
a certain Brahman youth had strolled into it and 
lying down in the cool shade of a tree had gone 
fast asleep. Neither the guards nor the king's 
servants "saw him, so he lay sleeping up to the 
time the princess entered the garden. 

The princess and her ladies roamed through it 
at will until they came to where the Brahman youth 
lay asleep. At the sound of their footsteps he 
awoke. His eyes met those of the princess. Each 
was so smitten with love for the other that the 
Brahman fell back in a dead faint while the princess 
began to tremble all over. When her ladies noticed 
her state they calmed her, until they were able to 
lead her to where her palanquin was. Placing her 
in it, they had her taken home. Tl\e Brahman 
youth remained lying where he was quite uncon- 
scious. It so happened that some time afterwards 
a Brahman of the name of Muldev passed together 
with his son Shashi close to where the youth lay. 
"Shashi," he said, "why is this youth lying here? 

Princess Chandraprabha 89 

"Some dancing- girl," laughingly replied his son, 
"has drawn the bow of her eyebrow and has shot 
him with the arrow of her glance, so that he has 
fainted." " We must lift him up," said Muldev. "No; 
let him be," said the other, "why should you care?" 
But Muldev did not heed his son. Placing his 
hand behind the youth's neck he raised him and 
said, "Good sir, what has brought you to this state?" 
"I am willing," replied the youth, "to tell my troubles 
to one who will help to mend them. But of what 
use is it to tell them to one who will merely look 
on and do nothing." "Tell me your troubles," said 
Muldev, "and I shall do my best to help you." 
When the youth had received this assurance, he 
told Muldev all about meeting with the princess. 
"If I can win her," he cried, "I shall live; but if not 
I shall kill myself." "Very well," said Muldev, "in 
the meantime come with me. I shall try to win the 
maid for you. If I cannot I shall make you a rich 
man to console you." 

"Providence," said the youth, "has created in this 
world many jewels, but a fair woman is the richest 
jewel of them all. Men merely desire wealth that 
with it they may win fair women. How will it profit 
a man to win gold if he miss love? It is better 
to be a beast of the field than to love a beautiful 
woman and not be loved in return. The fruit of 
virtue is wealth, the fruit of wealth is happiness, 
and the fruit of happiness is a lovely wife. For 
where woman is absent, happiness abides not." 

"Very well," said Muldev, "I shall get you what- 
ever you wish." "I want the princess," said the 

90 Tales of King Vikrama 

youth, "and nothing else." "Come then with me," 
said Muldev, "and I shall get you your princess." 
Muldev after much persuasion induced the Brah- 
man youth to go with him to his house. There 
he prepared two little pill-like balls. One of them 
he gave to the youth and said, "Directly you put 
one of them into your mouth, you will become a 
girl, of sixteen. Directly you take it out, you will 
become as before, a man again. Now put the ball 
in your mouth." The youth did so and instantly 
he took the form of a sixteen-year old maiden. 
Muldev next put the second ball into his own mouth 
and he became an eighty-year old anchorite. He 
took the young girl by the hand and with her went 
to the royal palace. When the king saw the Brah- 
man approach, he saluted him respectfully and 
seated him on a seat of honour and offered a simi- 
lar seat to the young girl. The Brahman in re- 
turn blessed the king in the following rhyme: 
"He who beat King Bali down, 
He who took fair Lanka town, 
He who by His single strength 
Held Govarclhan at arm's length, 
May* He luck bestow on you 
When you war and when you woo!" 

* He who destroyed King Bali was Waman or the dwarf, 
Vishnu's fifth incarnation. Vishnu took the form of a dwarf, 
appeared before Bali and asked for as much land as he could 
cover in three strides. Bali consented. Waman with one 
stride covered earth, with the second stride covered Heaven 
and with the third stamped Bali into hell (see page 79, Istur v He who took Lanka town was Vishnu's seventh 

Princess Chandraprabha 91 

The king asked the Brahman, "Reverend sir, 
why have you come?'' Muldev answered, "I have 
come from beyond the Ganges. For there I live. 
One day I had gone to take my daughter-in-law to 
another village. In my absence there was a battle 
near my town. When I returned, it was deserted 
and my wife and son had disappeared. I am now 
wandering about with my daughter-in-law in the 
hope of finding him. But I do not know how long 
my wanderings may be. I have therefore brought 
you my daughter-in-law. I want you to keep her 
for me until I. return." 

When the king heard the old Brahman's words, 
he fell into deep thought. 'How can I/ he asked 
himself, 'keep by me so young and beautiful a girl? 
and yet if I refuse that old Brahman will curse me/ 
At last he said, "As you will, reverend sir; I am 
ready to carry out your wish." Then he sent for 
his daughter. "My child," he said to her, "take this 
Brahman's daughter-in-law and look after her. 
Spare no money in making her comfortable. And 
do not forget her for a single moment whether you 
are asleep or awake, or rising or sitting or playing." 

The princess Chandraprabha took the Brahman 
girl by the hand and took her into her own apart- 

incarnation, the hero Ramchandra (see Indian Heroes). He 
who held Govardhan at arm's length was Krishna, Vishnu's 
eighth incarnation. The God Indra was angry because the 
cowherds be^an to worship Krishna instead of himself. So 
he showered rain upon them in torrents. Krishna held up Go- 
vardhan mountain over the cowherds to shelter them. The 
meaning of the blessing is simply "May Vishnu favour you!" 

92 . Tales of King Vikrama 

ments. That night they both went to rest upon 
the same couch and began to chatter together like 
any other two young girls. During a pause in the 
talk, the Brahman girl said, "Princess, what grief 
is it that makes you so careworn ? " The princess 
replied, "Listen, dear girl, and I shall tell you. One 
day I went into a certain garden. There I saw a 
Brahman youth as beautiful as the god of love 
himself. Our eyes met. He fainted on the spot. 
I too all but fainted. And the ladies with me 
seeing my state brought me home. I do not know 
the youth's country, or name, or village. But his 
image is always before my eyes. I want neither 
food nor drink. And if I look thin and careworn, 
this is the cause." 

The Brahman maid answered, "What reward 
would you give me if I enabled you to meet your 
beloved." "If you did," cried the princess, "I should 
be your slave always." The Brahman maid then 
took the ball out of her mouth and became once 
more a youth. When the princess saw the change 
she blushed and hid her face. Afterwards she and 
the Brahman youth married each other according 
to Gandharva marriage rites and lived happily to- 
gether. In the morning the Brahman youth would 
put the ball in his mouth and become a girl and 
at night he would take it out again and become 
once more a youth. In this way six months passed. 

One day the king took all his family to the 
house of his minister to attend a wedding there. 
When the minister's son saw the Brahman maid he 
lost his heart completely to her. He said to one of 

Princess Chandraprabha 93 

his friends, " Unless I can marry that girl I shall kill 
myself." After the wedding feast was over, the king 
with his family returned to his own house. But the 
minister's son grieved so for the Brahman maid, 
that he would touch neither food nor drink. His 
friend told the cause to the minister. The minister 
went to the king and said, "My lord king, my son 
has become very ill for love of that Brahman maid. 
He will neither eat nor drink. Of your mercy marry 
her to him. Otherwise, I shall lose him." 

At this the king grew very angry. "Fool! is it 
for a king to do such a thing? The girl is 
already the wife of another man. How can I 
marry her to your son?" The minister vexed at 
the answer went home. There seeing how ill his 
son was, he too refused food and drink. After 
some days, the king's other officers went to the 
king and said, "O king, the minister's son is on 
the point of death. The minister will not survive 
him. If the minister dies, the kingdom will be 
ruined; for there is no other with such know- 
ledge of statecraft as he has. Hear therefore, our 

" Speak," said the king. 

The leading officer then said, "My lord king, 
it is now many days since that old Brahman left. 
Heaven alone knows whether he is still alive. 
Marry, therefore, we pray you, the Brahman maid 
to the minister's son and save the kingdom. 
Should the old Brahman come back, pacify him 
with a gift of land or money. If that does not 
satisfy him, get another wife for his son." . The 

94 Tales of King Vikrama 

king agreed and sending for the Brahman's 
daughter-in-law told her what had taken place. 
"My lord king," she cried, " we women are the 
victims of our beauty. Brahmans are the victims 
of their ambition to serve kings. Wealth is lost 
through wickedness. Cows are led by their desire 
to drink water into the forest and there perish.'* 
Then after a pause, she said, "O king, if you insist 
on marrying me to the minister's son, then I 
would ask you one thing. Make him promise to do 
what I ask him. If you agree to this, I am ready 
to go to his house." "What is it that you want 
him to do?" asked the king. "My lord king, I 
am a Brahman girl and he is a Kshatriya. Be- 
fore I marry him, he must purify himself by going 
to all the holy places in India. If he does that, 
I am ready to marry him." 

The king repeated the condition to the 
minister's son, w r ho replied, "O king, I am ready 
to go on this pilgrimage, but I want her first to 
come and live in my house." The king approved 
his request, So the Brahman maid had against 
her will to go and live in the house of the 
minister's son. The latter before starting on his 
journey entrusted the maid to his wife and told 
them both to live in harmony and not quarrel 
with each other. Then he departed. 

Six months later, the minister's son returned 
after having visited all the holy places. His 
family began to make all preparations for* the 
wedding. The Brahman maid, however, took the 
ball out of her mouth and became once more a 

Princess Chandraprabha 95 

man. Then escaping from the window he fled 
from the city. After some time he met Muldev 
and told him all that had passed. Muldev took 
from him the magic ball and gave it to his son 
Shashi. Then father and son each put a magic 
ball into his mouth. Muldev became an old man, 
his son became a handsome youth of twenty. 
Then both went to the king. The king saluted 
the Brahmans respectfully and gave them both 
seats of honour. They in return blessed the king. 
After enquiring after Muldev's health, the king 
asked him where he had been during his absence. 
"I went," said Muldev, "to look for my son. At last 
I found him, and I have brought him with me. 
Now if you will be so good as to- give him his 
wife, we shall return to our own land." 

When the king heard Muldev's request, he had 
to tell him all that had happened to the Brahman 
maid. Muldev listened until the king had finished. 
Then in a fury he roared, "This is a fine tale! 
capital! ha! ha! you did as you thought best 
forsooth! Well, now you will have to feel the 
weight of my curse!" 

The king in a fright said, "Reverend sir! do 
not curse me! If you but spare me, I am ready to 
do anything you wish." " If you wish to escape 
my curse," roared Muldev, "you must give your 
daughter as a bride to my son." The king con- 
sented. On an auspicious day he married public- 
ly his daughter to Muldev's son. Then both 
Muldev and Shashi, taking the princess with them 
went back to their own land. 

96 Tales of King Vikrama 

When the Brahman youth came to hear of this, 
he went to Muldev's son and angrily demanded 
his wife. "No," said Shashi, "she is my wife. I 
was publicly married to her." "But how can she 
be your wife when she was already mine?" cried 
the Brahman youth. They continued shouting at 
each other for ever so long. And although 
Muldev tried to pacify the Brahman youth, he 
could not do so. 

At ihis point the oilman's son .* said, "King 
Vikrama, tell me whose wife the princess really 
was." ''She was the wife of Shashi," answered 
King Vikrama. "But how could she be?" asked the 
oilman's son, "when she had already married 
gome one else?" "No one knew," retorted King 
Vikrama, "or could know about the first marriage; 
whereas the second marriage was performed pub- 
licly and everybody recognised it. So the princess 
was really the wife of Muldev's son Shashi." 
When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he 
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had 
once more broken his promise. Returning to the 
burning ground, he flung the dead body over his 
shoulder and began once more to retrace his 
steps. As he went, the oilman's son began to tell 
his fifteenth tale. 



ONCE upon a time there stood upon the Hima- 
layas a town of the Gandharvas. Over it ruled 
a king Jimutketu by name. In order to obtain 
a son he worshipped piously the Wishing 
Tree. At last the Wishing Tree said to him, "O 
king, I am pleased with your devotion. Ask any- 
thing of me that you wish." "Divine Tree/' an- 
swered the king, "vouchsafe me a son, who will 
make my kingdom and my renown endure after 
me." A year later one of his queens bore the king 
a son. The king was delighted and gave large 
sums in charity. Then he sent for Brahmans to 
name his son. The Brahmans gave him the name 
of Jimutvahan. When the boy was eight years old, 
he began daily to worship the gods and to study 
the sacred books. In this way he became so wise 
and thoughtful, adventurous and brave, pious and 
learned, that he had no equal in the whole king- 
dom. And all his subjects became as virtuous as 
he was. When he reached manhood, he worshipped 
continuously the * Wishing Tree just as his father 
had done. And the Wishing Tree, pleased with 
him as it had been with his father, appeared be- 
fore him and told him to ask for a boon. 

* The Kalpa Vraksha or Wishing Tree has the quality of 
granting any wish to him who sees it. It came up at the 
churning of the ocean. The God Indra first took it, but the 
greater God Vishnu eventually took it from him. 


98 Tales of King Vikrama 

" Divine Tree," said Jimutvahan, " if you are 
pleased with me, then remove, I pray you, all 
poverty from my people, make them all equally 
rich." "So be it," said the Wishing Tree. Then 
all King Jimutketu's subjects became so rich, that 
none of them would obey any orders or do any 
\vork. When the whole kingdom had become dis- 
organised, the king's relatives conspired together, 
saying: "Father and son have both become reli- 
gious mad. No one obeys them. Let us, therefore 
imprison both of them and take their throne from 
them." The king never suspected the plot, until 
his kinsmen one day with an armed force be- 
sieged the palace. The king asked his son what 
he should do. "Fear nothing," answered the prince, 
"through your valour and merit, I shall beat them 
in battle." "My son," said the king, "this body is 
destructible and fortune is fickle. A man's end is 
born with him. Therefore let us abandon our 
kingdom and spend the rest of our lives in prayer. 
If we fight for our lives and thrones, we shall in 
the end repent of it." When the son heard the 
king's words, he said, "As you please, my father. 
Let us yield up our kingdom to our knsmen and 
depart to do penances in the forest." Thereafter 
the king summoned his kinsmen and handed over 
the kingdom to them. Next lie and his son went 
to the Malaya mountains and building a hut of 
leaves dwelt in it. There Jimutvahan gained the 
friendship of a rishi's son. One day the prince 
and the rishi's son went for a walk among the 
hills. As they walked, they saw a maiden playing 

King Jimutketu and Prince Jimutvahan 99 

on a lute and dancing before an image of Parvati. 
When the prince's and the maiden's eyes met, they 
instantly fell in love the one with the other. The 
maiden blushing, ran back home. Jimutvahan 
went home also ; he was too shy to tell his father 
what had befallen him. But both he and the 
maiden were unable to sleep and sighed the whole 
night through. Next morning the maiden went to 
Parvati's temple. Jimutvahan, too, went there 
alone. He asked one of the serving maids who 
her mistress was. She answered, "The princess' 
name is Malay avati. She is the daughter of Malaya- 
ketu, a king of the Vidyadharas. But you, sir, 
who are you and whence have you come, and what 
is your name?" The prince told the serving maid 
his whole life-story from his birth onwards and 
the serving maid repeated it all to the princess. 
The princess became very sad and spent her days 
lying on her couch, deep in thought. Her serving 
maid told the queen. The queen told the king 
and added that the princess was now a woman, 
and that it was time to choose her a husband. 

After the queen had spoken, King Malayaketu 
thought the subject over. Then he sent for his 
son Mitravasu and told him to look out for a 
husband for his sister. "My father," said Mitra- 
vasu, "I hear that Jamutketu, a king of the 
Gandharvas and his son Jimutvahan have aban- 
doned their kingdom and have come to live upon 
these mountains." King Malayaketu said, "Very 
well; I am quite willing to marry my daughter 
to Jimutvahan. Go and see King Jimutketu and 

100 Tales of King Yikrama 

bring Jimutvahan back with you. Mitravasu 
went to Jimutketu's hermitage and asked him to 
let his son go back with him. "My father has sent 
for him," the prince explained, "as he wishes to 
bestow on him the princess my sister." King Jimut- 
ketu agreed and sent back Jimutvahan with him. 
Thereafter King Malayaketu married princess 
Malayavati to prince Jimutvahan with great pomp 
and circumstance. 

After the wedding, Jimutvahan with Malaya- 
vati and Mitravasu returned to his hermitage. 
All three fell at the old king's feet. And in re- 
turn he blessed them. Next day both the young 
princes went for a walk over the hills. As they 
walked, they came to a big white heap. When 
Jimutvahan saw it, he said, "Brother, what is that 
big white heap?" Mitravasu replied, "The snake 
people come up here by hundreds of thousands 
and every day Garud* comes down from the sky 
aji-cl eats them up. The heap is made of their 
bones," Jimutvahan was silent for a moment, 
then he said, "Brother, go home and have your 
breakfast. I shall remain here and worship the 
God Shiva. I always worship him at this time." 
Mitravasu went back to breakfast and Jimutvahan 
walked on. After he had walked on some way> 
he heard the noise of some one weeping. Jimut- 
vahan went in the direction of the sound. At last 
he came to an old woman weeping. He went up 
to her and asked her why she cried. "I have a 

* Garud is Vishnu's Eagle. Vishnu rides him. (See Tales 
from the Indian Epics.) 


102 Tales of King Vikrama 

son," she answered, "named Shankhchud. To-day 
it is his tarn to serve as food for Garud. Garud 
will surely eat him. That is why I am weeping." 
"Do not weep, lady," said Jimutvahan, "I am ready 
to give my life to save your son." "No, no," cried 
the old woman, "do not throw away your life like 
that. Indeed I feel as fond of you as if you were 
my own son Shankhchud." 

As she was speaking Shankhchud came up. 
When he learnt what the prince had said, he 
exclaimed, "Fair prince! do not sacrifice your life 
for mine. There are many miserable wretches on 
earth like me; whereas men as virtuous and 
kindly as you, are rarely met with. If you live, 
you (vill benefit thousands, whereas it makes no 
difference to anyone whether I live or die." "Nay," 
answered Jimutvahan, "an honourable man cannot 
go back on an offer once made. You go back the 
way you came. I shall sit here where you would 
have sat and Garud will come and eat me." 

Shankhchud went to Parvati's temple to wor- 
ship her image. Just after he had gone, Garud 
swooped down from the sky. When the prince 
saw his terrible form, horror seized him. Garud's 
legs were four times longer than the tallest bam- 
boo. His beak was as long as a toddy palm. 
His great stomach was the size of a mountain. 
His eyes were like the windows of a house. His 
wings were like great black thunder-clouds. 
With open beak he rushed at the prince and 
seizing him flew up into the heavens in huge 
circles. The prince had a golden ring on his 

King Jimutketu and Prince Jimutvahan 103 

finger on which his name was engraved. All 
blood-smeared it slipped off his finger and fell 
down upon the Malaya hills, close to where his 
wife happened to be sitting. Directly she saw it, 
she fainted. When she recovered consciousness, 
she went home and told her father and mother. 
They looked at the ring and recognising it as the 
prince's were heart-broken with grief. Her 
brother, sister and father went out to look for 
Jimutvahan. On the way Shankhchud met them. 
He told them the whole story and shewed them 
Garud circling in the sky above them. Then he 
ran until he got directly under the mighty bird 
and shouted out, "O Garud, let him go. He is not 
your prey. My name is Shankhchud. Here I am 
sitting on this stone. Come and eat me." When 
Garud heard, he was puzzled and descended to 
earth. "Woe is me!" he thought to himself, "I 
must have seized some Brahman or Kshatriya. 
I have done a great sin." He freed the prince 
and said, "Tell me, O man, who you are, and why 
you throw your life away like this?" 

"Listen," answered the prince, "a tree suffers 
from the summer heat and yet throws a cool 
shade. It bears fruits and others eat them. The 
nature of the tree resembles that of the true man. 
What avails a man to have a body if he cannot 
use it for the benefit of others? If sandal- wood is 
ground to powder it gives a sweeter perfume. 
Sugar-cane gives its juice, only when it is cut in 
pieces and pressed in the mill. To refine gold, 
men heat it in the fire. Heroes remain true even 

104 Tales of King Vikrama 

though it cost them their lives. Pleasure and 
pain matter nothing. It is all one to them whether 
they die to-day or a hundred years hence. If 
fortune is on a man's side, he is happy; if fortune 
deserts him, he is miserable. He who walks in 
the path of righteousness will face any evil but 
he will not plant his foot in the path of wicked- 
ness. A man becomes no better by growing rich, 
nor does he become any worse if he grows poor. 
In short, he who in this life does not win the 
gratitude of another, lives in vain. But he who 
gives his life for another has put it to good ser- 
vice. Men who think only of saving their own 
lives are no better than crows or dogs. But the 
man who dies to save a cow or a Brahman, his 
friend or his wife or, indeed, any other, goes to 
Vaikunth, Vishnu's heaven." Garud answered, 
"All honour to the man brave enough to give his 
life for another. For he is rarely met with in this 
world." Then he said, "I am pleased with your 
gallant act; ask of me any boon you will." Prince 
Jimutvahan said, "Divine Bird, grant me, I pray 
you, this boon: eat no more snake people from 
to-day onwards, and bring back to life those of the 
snake people that you have eaten in the past." 

Garud on hearing the words of the prince, des- 
cended into Patala and bringing back ambrosia 
sprinkled it over the heap of bones. Instantly, all 
the snake people that he had eaten, came to life 
again. Then Garud blessed Jimutvahan saying, 
"Prince, you will win back your kingdom." After 
making this promise, Garud went to his own abode 

King Jimutketu and Prince Jimutvahan 105 

and Shankhchud went back to his dwelling place 
underground. Jimutvahan rejoined his father-in- 
law, his brother-in-law and his wife and all went 
back rejoicing to Jimutvahan's hermitage. But 
the fame of Prince Jimutvahan's noble act spread 
to his father's kingdom. And his kinsmen and all 
his people on hearing of it, set out to the Malaya 
mountains and called him back to sit upon his 
father's throne. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vi- 
krama, tell me who of these persons was the no- 
blest?" "Shankhchud," replied the king. "Why?" 
asked the oilman's son. "Because," said King 
Vikrama, "although Shankhchud had only just es- 
caped death, he yet offered his life to save the prince 
from Garud's clutches." "But" objected the oilman's 
son, "surely the prince's conduct in offering his 
life to save Shankhchud was nobler still." "No," 
said King Vikrama, "prince Jimutvahan was a 
Kshatriya by caste; Kshatriyas are taught from 
childhood that they must place no value on their 
lives. It was thus not hard for the prince to offer 
his to save Shankhchud." When King Vikrama 
had finished speaking, he found himself alone. 
He realised that he had again broken his promise. 
Returning to the burning ground lie took the 
dead body down from the branch and began once 
more to retrace his steps. As he did so, the oil- 
man's son began to tell his sixteenth tale. 



ONCE upon a time there was a town called 
Chaiidrashekhar. A merchant lived there 
called Ratnadatta. He had a daughter 
named Unmadini. When she was in the 
flower of her youth, the merchant went to the 
king and said, "My lord king, I have a very 
beautiful daughter. If you like, I am ready to 
bestow her on you." The king called two or three 
of his eldest friends and bade them go to Ratna- 
datta's house and find out what the maid was like. 
If she was pretty, he was willing to marry her. 
The king's friends went, as ordered, and all were 
charmed by the girl's beauty. Indeed, her loveli- 
ness was beyond description. No one would 
have deemed her a human maid. Her beauty 
outshone the jewels she wore. Truly she was 
what the ancient books have called a maid of the 
lotus kind*. When the King's friends saw her, 

*The ancient Hindus divided women into four classes: 
a- Padmani or the lotus kind, i. e., one in whom every 
excellence is joined. 

b. Chit-rani or the variegated kind, i. e., one in whom some 

defects are to be found, but in whom the virtues pre- 

c. Hastani or the elephant kind, i.e., one who swings her 

hips in a wide circle when walking, a quality much 

d. Skankhani or the conch type, L e., a woman of no beauty 

either of form, face or mind. In addition to her ugli- 
ness she has a voice like a war horn. 

The King and Unmadini 107 

they reflected that if they told the king that the 
girl was pretty, he would wed her. Once married 
he would never leave her side, but would bask in 
her beauty all day long. In this way he would 
neglect his duties and ruin his kingdom. They 
therefore resolved to tell the king that Unmadini 
was ugly. They went back to the king and said, 
"O Maharaja, we have seen the maid as you 
ordered us to do. But she is ugly and in no way 
worthy of you." When the king heard this, he 
told the merchant that he would not marry his 

Some time afterwards the merchant gave his 
daughter in marriage to the king's general 
Balbhadra by name. Unmadini went to live in 
her husband's house. One day the king and his 
suite happened to pass by Balbhadra's house. 
Unmadini went and stood upon the balcony to 
see the king pass. He fell at once in love with 
her and thought to himself, " She must be some 
wood-nymph or apsara.* No daughter of man 
could be so lovely as she. The king concealing 
his passion, returned the same evening to the 
palace. The sentry at the door noticed that the 
king's face was care-worn and said, "My lord king, 
what ails you?" "My man, how can I tell you?" 
said the king, "I saw a lovely woman on the 
balcony of Balbhadra's house. I saw her only 
once, yet I am her slave. That is what ails me." 

*Apsaras are immortal ladies-in-waiting at the god 
Indra's court. 

108 Tales of King Vikrama 

"My lord king, that was the merchant Ratna- 
datta's daughter. He has married her to your 
general Balbhadra." When the king heard this, 
he realised that the friends whom he had sent to 
see the maiden had tricked him. He sent a 
messenger to call them. When they stood before 
him, he said, "You did not do as I told you, but 
disobeyed the order that I gave you and told me 
a lot of falsehoods. To-day I saw Ratnadatta's 
daughter with my own eyes. She has such charm 
and beauty that I shall never get a wife like her." 
"O Maharaja," pleaded the king's friends, "it is 
true that we lied to you, but hear, we pray you, 
why we did so. If you had married a wife of 
such surpassing beauty, she would have enslaved 
you and you would have neglected the duties of 
your state. This would have brought misery on 
your subjects. The fear of this calamity led us 
into error." "You are right," said the king. Then 
he suddenly remembered Unmadini and fell into 
a dead faint. 

Every one in the city came to hear of the 
king's love for Unmadini. When the news reached 
Balbhadra, he at once went to the king and rous- 
ing him from his fainting fit said with clasped 
hands, "O lord of the Earth! I am your slave; 
my wife is your bondswoman. Why should you 
suffer grief on her account? Whenever you tell 
me, I am ready to bring her here for you to 
marry." When the king heard the general's 
words, he grew very angry. "To covet another's 
wife is a great sin. Why do you suggest that I 

The King and Unmadini 109 

should do sucli a thing? I am a just man and I 
could never be guilty of such an act. I look on 
all other men's wives as if they were my mothers; 
and I regard all other men's riches as if they 
were dirt. A king should behave towards other 
men as he would that they should behave unto 

"But," objected Balbhadra, "Unmadini is my 
bondmaiden and I have given her to you. Why 
then, do you say that she belongs to another?" 
"Nay," answered the king, "I can never do an act 
which would stain my honour." "But my lord 
king," persisted the general, u if I drive my wife 
out of the house and turn her into a dancing girl, 
then surely I can offer her to you." At this the 
king grew more angry than ever. "If you dare," 
he cried, "to turn a chaste wife into a dancing- 
girl, I shall surely punish you." After he had 
said this, the king again remembered Unmadini 
and fell into a dead faint. Ten days later he died. 

The king's general Balbhadra went to his 
spiritual teacher and said, "My master died 
through love of Unmadini, tell me what I should 
do." The teacher replied, "It is the duty of the 
servant to die with his master." On hearing this 
Balbhadra went with his master's corpse to the 
burning ground and lit the funeral pyre. Then 
he turned to the sun with clasped hands and cried, 
"O Sun god, I ask this of you with all my body, 
speech and mind. Grant that at every fresh birth 
the dead king shall be my master and that I may 
through all time sing your praises". Next he 

110 Tales of King Vikrama 

prostrated himself in honour of the Sun god. Then 
leaping into the fire he died near his master. 

When Unmadini came to know what her 
husband had done, she went to her spiritual 
teacher and' told him in detail all that had hap- 
pened. Then she said, "My master, tell me what 
I should do." The teacher replied, "Lady, the 
woman who serves the husband to whom her 
parents gave her, she alone is deemed to act 
righteously. She who disobeys her husband and 
busies herself in outside matters ruins her hus- 
band's happiness and receives her punishment in 
HelL Whosoever her husband may be, him only 
the wife should serve. Thus she will attain happi- 
ness. When he dies she should pass with him 
through the flames. This and no other is the 
wife's duty." 

On hearing this Unmadini prostrated herself 
before her spiritual teacher and went to her house. 
There she bathed and distributed a great treasure 
among the Brahmans. Next she walked round 
her husband's pyre, crying, "O lord of my life! 
may I be your slave from birth to birth." Lastly 
she mounted the burning pyre and there perished. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vi- 
krama, tell me who of those persons had the great- 
est merit." "The king," answered King Vikrama. 
"He refused to accept his general's wife, and al- 
though he died of love for her, he would not com- 
mit unrighteousness. To give one's life for one's 
master is the duty of the servant. To die on one's 
husband's pyre is the duty of a wife." 

The King and Unmadini 


When King Vikrama had finislied speaking he 
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had 
again broken his promise. He returned to the 
burning ground and found the dead body hang- 
ing to the tree. He flung it over his shoulder and 
began to retrace his steps. As he went, the oil- 
in an's son began to tell his seventeenth tale. 


ONCE upon a time a king called Mahasen ruled 
over Ujjain city. In it too lived a Brahman 
called Devsharma and his son Gunakar. 
The son was a great gambler and he gambled 
away all his inheritance. At last his kinsmen 
drove him out of the house. As he had no money, 
he could no longer gamble ; and when he was not 
gambling, he was not happy. In despair he set 
forth on a journey. He came to a city near which 
he saw an anchorite inhaling smoke. Gunakar 
went up to him, bowed to him and then sat down 
near him. 

"My lad,' 1 said the anchorite, "would you like 
anything to eat?" "Yes," said Gunakar, "if you 
will be so good as to give me food, I shall be glad 
to eat it." The anchorite filled a skull with food 
and handed it to Gunakar. But the latter said, 
"I cannot eat food from a dead man's skull." As 
the youth would not eat, the anchorite repeated an 
incantation. *A Yakshani appeared before him. 
She clasped her hands and said, "Lord, what are 
your commands?" "Give this Brahman youth," an- 
swered the anchorite, "a dinner that he will like." 
The Yakshani at once created a beautiful palace, 
in which was to be found everything that a man's 
heart could desire. Then taking Gunakar by the 

*A Yakshani is a female immortal who is particularly 
susceptible to incantations. 

Gimakar and the Anchorite 113 

hand, she led him into the palace, seated him on a 
throne and placed in front of him a gorgeous feast 
of which every dish had no less than six distinct 

Gunakar enjoyed the feast and ate to his heart's 
content. The Yakshani gave him a roll of betel- 
nut. Next she powdered some saffron in some 
rose water and anointed him and put round his 
neck garlands of fragrant flowers. Then she robed 
him in rich clothes and led him to a splendid 
bed, heavy with costly draperies. The Brahman 
tirec* with his journey went fast asleep and the 
Yakshani returned to her dwelling place. When 
he awoke, he could see her nowhere. He went 
back to the ascetic and said, "The Yakshani has 
fled away; what am I to do?" "My lad," said the 
anchorite, "she was forced to come by the power 
of the incantation which I repeated. She will 
only stay with one who can repeat it correctly." 
"Reverend sir," cried Gunakar, "teach me for 
mercy's sake that spell. The anchorite told him 
the words of the spell and bade him go and sit 
at midnight in water and to remain there for 
forty consecutive days and nights repeating the 
words over and over again with his mind conceit 
trated on them and on nothing else. 

Gunakar sat in water for forty days muttering 
the spell. Slowly and in great hardship the days 
passed by, but at the end no Yakshani appeared. 
"Reverend sir," said Gunakar to the anchorite, 
"I have done all that you told me, but nothing / 
has come of it." "You must now," said the ancho^ 


114 Tales of King Vikrama 

rite, "sit in fire for forty days repeating the 
spell." "Very well," said Gunakar, "but before I 
begin I must pay a visit to my home." 

He said good-bye to the anchorite and returned 
home. All his family flung themselves on his 
neck and said lovingly to him, "O Gunakar, 
where have you been all this time? Why did 
you desert your home?" His father said, "My son, 
the man who deserts a chaste wife will never 
prosper and merits the name of base-born. For 
it is written in the sacred books that there is no 
life like that of the householder and there 4s no 
happiness like a wife's 'love. Those who revile 
their parents deserve also the name of base-born. 
They will prosper neither on earth nor in heaven." 

"My father," retorted Gunakar, "a man's body 
is made of flesh and blood. It is the dwelling 
place of acts done in a former life. Such is its 
nature that if it is not washed daily it becomes 
malodorous. The wise are those who have no 
affection for such a body. Again what trust can 
be placed in that which is always being born 
again and that dies as often as is born? No 
matter how much a man tries, he can never make 
his body holy, any more than he can make coal 
white by scrubbing it. Mothers, fathers, wives, 
brothers, their name is legion! yet all of them 
perish. Therefore all is vanity. Those who offer 
sacrifices are honoured by the gods, but those 
who become anchorites become themselves the 
dwelling places of the gods. I shall no longer 
stay at home; but henceforward I shall give 

Gunakar and the Anchorite 115 

myself up to the study of asceticism." With these 
words Gunakar left the spot and returned to the 

Gunakar for forty days sat in a burning fire 
repeating the anchorite's spell, but no Yakshani 
appeared. He went to the anchorite. The latter 
asked him whether the Yakshani had appeared. 
Gunakar replied that she had not. 

At this point the oilman's son sai^l, "King 
Vikrama, tell me why Gunakar could not work 
the spell." King Vikrama answered, "To work a 
spell one 'must think of it and it only, when repeat- 
ing it. For if the mind is disturbed the spell has 
no power. Without generosity no man can win 
fame. He who abandons the true path feels no 
shame when in the path of evil. He who does 
not give all his thoughts to " God does not see 
God." "But," objected the oilman's son, "how can 
you say that one who sat for forty days in a 
burning fire in order that the spell might work, 
could not properly concentrate his thoughts?" 
"At the very time," answered King Vikrama, "that 
he was trying to work the spell, he went off to 
see his family. The anchorite got angry, for he 
saw that he had told the incantation to a man of 
unstable will. So the Yakshani never came back. 
It is written in the sacred books that no matter 
how brave a man be, he must have fortune on his 
side; and that no matter how much a man strive, 
he will never get more than that to which his 
former life entitles him." 

When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he 



Tales of King Vikrama 

saw that he was alone. He realised that he had 
once more broken his promise. He returned to 
the burning ground, took the dead body down 
from the tree and flinging it once more over his 
shoulder began to retrace his steps. As he went, 
the oilman's son began to tell his eighteenth tale. 


ONCE upon a time there was a town called 
Luchal. Over it ruled a king called Sudaksh, 
and in it lived a merchant whose name was 
Dhanadhyaksh, who had a daughter called 
Dhanvati. While she was still a child, her father 
married her to a youth called Gouridatta. In 
course of time she gave birth to a daughter to 
whom she gave the name of Mohini. When the 
little girl was only seven, her father Gouridatta 
died. His kinsmen at once seized all his property. 
In despair, Dhanvati, late one night, took her little 
girl by the hand and started to return home. 
After some distance she lost her way and by 
mistake entered a burning ground. Therein stood 
a stake upon which a robber had been impaled. 
Suddenly her hand touched the robber's foot. 
"Who at such a time of night hurts my foot?" 
roared the robber. Dhanvati replied, "I never 
meant to hurt you. I did it without knowing 
that I did it. Therefore, please forgive me." 
"Lady," answered the robber, "no one gives 
another happiness or pain. A man enjoys such 
fortune as he is destined to enjoy. If a man says 
that he did such and such a thing, he speaks fool- 
ishly. For a man is bound fast by his actions in 
a former life. These actions drag a man hither 
and thither as they will. No one knows what is 
in store for him. A man makes plans, but fortune 
brings them to nought." 

118 Tales of King Vikrama 

After listening to this long speech, Dhanvati 
said, "Who are you, sir?" "I am a robber," was the 
answer. "I have been impaled for three days on 
this stake. Yet even now my life will not depart." 
"But," answered Dhanvati, "why?" "I have never 
been married," answered the robber, "and in the 
hope of my marriage my life still clings to my 
body. If you will give me your daughter, I shall 
give you a crore of rupees." Now the cause of sin 
is greed, the cause of disease is infection, and the 
cause of grief is friendship. Only he is happy 
who avoids all three. But no one ever does avoid 
them. Thus it befell that through her desire to 
get the money, Dhanvati agreed to marry her 
daughter to the robber. "Very well," she said, 
''but suppose that thereafter she wants to have a 
son, how can she have one?" "When she grows 
to womanhood," answered the robber, "you must 
marry her to some handsome Brahman. Give 
him five hundred gold coins as her dowry, and 
she will become the mother of a son." 

On hearing these words Dhanvati walked 
round the stake and married her little girl to the 
robber. The latter then said, "If you go to the 
east, you will see a banian tree near a dark well. 
At the foot of the tree is the buried treasure, 
take it and keep it." Having said this, he died. 
Dhanvati went to the spot and found the treasure. 
Taking only a few rupees with her she went to 
her parents* house. She told them what had 
happened. Then she went with them to her 
husband's village and built a big house and lived 

The Robber's Bride 119 

in it. As the years passed, her daughter Mohini 
grew up. One day as she was standing by the 
upper window of her house a Brahman youth 
passed by. Directly she saw him, she fell in love 
with him. "Go at once," she said to her maid 
servant, "and take him to my mother." The maid 
servant did so. Dhanvati said to the youth, "Good 
sir, I have a daughter, if you will marry her and 
she bears you a son, I shall give you a hundred 
rupees." The Brahman agreed. That night they 
were married. 

A year later Mohini gave birth to a son. On 
the sixth night after his birth, she had a dream. 
She saw an anchorite. His hair was in a matted 
coil; on his forehead was the moon. His body 
was smeared with white ashes. He was seated 
on a white lotus. A white snake was twined about 
his neck, from which hung a garland of skulls. In 
one hand he carried a human head. In the other 
he had a trident. He was of great stature and his 
look was terrible. He said to Mohini, "To-morrow 
at midnight put your little boy in a box and put 
with him a bag containing a thousand rupees. 
Then leave the box by the door of the king's 
palace." Just then Mohini awoke and saw that it 
was broad daylight. She told her mother her 
dream. That night she put her little boy and the 
money in a box and left it opposite the king's door. 

That night the king saw in a dream, a man of 
gigantic stature, who had ten arms, five heads 
with three eyes each, enormous teeth, and a moon 
on each forehead. The man said to the king, "A 

120 Tales of King Vikrama 

box has been left at your door. In it you will 
find a baby boy. Take him in. He will rule over 
your kingdom." 

Just then the king awoke. He told his dream 
to the queen. Next he went to the palace door 
and found the box. He opened it and found inside 
a baby boy and a bag containing a thousand rupees, 
The king lifted up the baby boy and told the 
sentry to carry inside the bag of a thousand rupees. 
The king next went to the queen and placed the 
baby boy in her lap. By this time the sun had 
risen. He sent for the wise men and astrologers 
and asked them to see if the child had any of the 
marks of royal blood. Now there was among the 
wise men one especially skilled in chiromancy. 
He said, "My lord king, I can see three clear marks. 
The first is the boy's broad chest, the second is 
his lofty forehead, the third is the length of his 
body. Besides these he has all the thirty-two 
points which are said to indicate a hero. He is 
certainly destined to rule a kingdom." When the 
king heard this, he gave large sums in charity. 
He next took off the jewels that he was wearing 
and giving them to the Brahmans bade them name 
the child. "Great king," they replied, "take the boy 
and sit with it near the queen. Then bid all your 
subjects hold high festival. Thereafter we shall 
give the child a name in the manner required by 
the sacred books." 

The king told the minister to make arrange- 
ments as the Brahmans had orderd. The minister 
sent criers through all the city to announce to 

The Robber's Bride 121 

all that the queen had borne the king a son. 
When the citizens heard this, they poured out of 
their houses and flocked to the royal palace. In 
the palace the musicians played gay tunes and 
in the temples were held thanksgiving services. 
The king placed the boy on the queen's lap and 
sat with her on the same dining platform. As they 
did so, the Brahmans began to repeat sacred verses. 
Lastly after examining the stars, an astrologer 
gave the boy the name of Hardatta. As time 
passed the boy grew. When he was nine years 
old, he knew the sacred books, the fourteen sciences 
and had become famous for his learning. Suddenly 
his parents died. He succeeded them on the throne 
and began to rule wisely and well. After some 
years had passed, he thought to himself, " Although 
my parents gave me life, yet I have done nothing 
for them in return. For it is said that only those 
who shew mercy to all are wise and will in the 
end go to heaven. Those whose minds are im- 
pure, reap nothing from their charities, their de- 
votions, their austerities and their pilgrimages. 
Those who without faith worship their fathers' 
spirits do it in vain and their fathers' spirits remain 

After these reflections, King Hardatta resolved 
to go to Gaya and offer sacred cakes to his father's 
spirit. He went to the banks of the Phalgu river 
and began to offer sacred cakes. Instantly three 
hands arose from the river. The king became per- 
plexed, for he wondered into which hand he 
should give the sacred cake. 


The Robber's Bride 


At this point the oilman's son said, "Tell me 
King Vikrma, in which of the three hands should 
King Hardatta have placed the sacred cake?" "In 
none of them," answered King Vikrama. "The rob- 
ber was not King Hardatta's father. The Brah- 
man sold himself for a hundred rupees. The king 
only took the child because there were a thousand 
rupees in the box. Neither the robber, the Brah- 
man, nor the king deserved any offerings." 

When the king had finished speaking, he saw 
that he was alone. He realised that he had 
once more broken his promise. He returned to 
the burning ground where the dead body was 
hanging from one of the branches. He flung it 
over his shoulder and began once more to retrace 
his steps. As he did so, the oilman's son began 
to tell his nineteenth tale. 


ONCE upon a time there was a city called 
Chitrakuta. Over it ruled a king Darned 
Rupadatta. One day he mounted his horse 
and rode out to hunt. He lost his way in 
the middle of a great forest and found himself on 
the shores of a wide lake. Upon its surface 
lotuses were blooming, many kinds of water-fowl 
were sitting on its banks and calling each to its 
mate. All round was the shade of leafy trees. A 
cool fragrant breeze was blowing and the king 
who was weary from the heat tied his horse to a 
tree and spreading a carpet on the grass sat 
upon it. About half an hour later a young and 
beautiful maiden, the daughter of a hermit, passed 
by gathering flowers. Directly the king saw her, 
he loved her. When she was going away with 
the flowers, the king called to her, "Fair maid! 
Is this the way to treat me? I am a stranger 
who has come to your hermitage, yet you do not 
ask me if I need anything." On hearing the 
king's words the maiden stopped. The king 
continued, "Even if a low caste stranger goes to 
the house of a high caste, yet he should be hon- 
oured. Be he thief, outcast or king, the stranger 
should always be honoured. Such is one's duty, 
because the stranger is the spiritual teacher of 
all." As the king spoke, the maiden gradually 
lifted her eyes to his. But before she could ans- 
wer the hermit himself came. The king on seeing 

The Giant and the Brahman Boy 125 

him saluted him. The hermit blessed him as a 
son and asked him why he had come. "Reverend 
sir," replied the king, "I came here a-hunting." 
"But why," asked the hermit, "do you commit so 
terrible a sin? For it is written in the sacred 
books that the fruit of one man's sin is the punish- 
ment of many." "Reverend sir," replied the king, 
"give me, I pray you, some religious teaching." 
"O king listen," said the hermit, "to kill animals 
that live upon grass and water in the forest is a 
great sin. To feed birds and beasts is a virtuous 
act. He who consoles one who in fear begs for 
mercy, wins the merit of a great charity. There is 
no penance which equals in value to forgiveness. 
There is no happiness like contentment. There is 
no wealth like friendship. There is no virtue so 
great as mercy. Those who walk in righteous 1 
ness and truth, who cherish their wives, who boast 
not of their wealth, learning, accomplishments, 
reputation and power, they in the end attain to 
salvation. But magicians, sorcerers, those who kill 
others in quarrels, kings who do not protect their 
subjects from oppressors, men who lead astray the 
wife of a king or the wife or daughter of a friend, 
they are in the end condemned to hell. For so it 
is written in the sacred books." 

When the king had heard this discourse, he 
clasped his hands and said, "Reverend sir! I cai> 
not help the sins that I have hitherto committed 
through ignorance. But through God's mercy, I 
shall hereafter act as you have told me." The hei> 
mit , was pleased and said, "O king, I am pleased 

126 Tales of King Vikrama 

with you. Ask of me any boon you will/' "If you 
are really pleased with me," answered the king, "give 
me your daughter to be my bride." The hermit 
consented and married his daughter to the king 
by the Gandharva marriage rites. Then he re- 
turned to his hermitage. The king taking the her- 
mit's daughter set out to return to his city. As 
they went, the sun set and the moon rose. The 
king saw a big teee by the road. He dismounted 
and tied his horse to one of its roots. And he and 
his bride lay down together on the king's carpet. 
In the middle of the night a hideous giant came 
and waking the king said, "O king, I am going 
to eat your wife." "Nay, do not eat her," cried the 
king, "I shall give you anything you ask for, if 
you will but spare her." "I shall spare her only 
on one condition," answered the giant. "You must 
yourself cut off the head of a Brahman boy of 
seven years old and give it to me." "Very well," 
replied the king, "come on the seventh day from 
now to my palace and I shall give you the head." 
Having thus snared the king into a promise, the 
giant went home. Next morning the king reached 
his palace. The minister went to congratulate him 
on his marriage. The king told him what had 
happened. " What shall I do," he continued, " for the 
giant will surely come on the seventh day?" "My 
lord king," said the minister, "do not be downcast 
With Heaven's help all will be well." 

The minister took his leave and had made a 
golden jewel-studded image that weighed one and 
a quarter maund. He had it erected in the public 

The Gaint and the Brahman Boy 127 

square and asked the guards to tell everyone who 
stopped to look at it that the king would give it to 
any Brahman who would give his seven year old 
boy to the king, that he might cut his head off. 
Two days passed without result. On the third day 
a Brahman of that city who had three sons went 
to his wife and said, "I am going to offer one of my 
sons to the king and I am going to bring back home 
the golden image." When his wife heard this, she 
said, "I am not going to let you take the youngest." 
The Brahman said, "And I am not going to offer 
to the king the eldest." Hearing their talk, the 
second son said, "Take me father." The Brahman 
thought to himself: "In this world wealth is the 
chief thing. If riches go, happiness goes with them. 
He who is born poor lives in vain. The wise have 
said that poverty is the source of evil, the abiding 
place of iniquity, the home of recklessness, the 
mother of illusion and the enemy of religion. How 
can it, therefore, have any virtue? It has also been 
said that one should store up wealth against the 
day of trouble. One can then save one's wife by 
sacrificing one's wealth; but if need be, one should 
sacrifice both wife and wealth to save oneself." 
The Brahman, rambling in this fashion, took 
his son to the image and exchanging him for it 
took the image home. On the seventh day the giant, 
as arranged, came. The king worshipped the Brah- 
man boy by offering him scent, flowers, ghee, food, 
fruit, betel-nut, rich robes and by burning a lamp 
in front of him. Then he drew his sword and got 
ready to kill him. As the king did so, the boy first 

128 Tales of King Vikrama 

laughed and then began to cry. A moment later 
the king had cut his head off. 
1 When the giant saw how truly the king had 
kept his promise, he was pleased and said, "O 
king, ask a boon of me ! " " Sir giant !" said the king, 
"bring this boy back to life/' The giant went to 
King Bibhishan* and through his help went to Pa- 
tala. Thence he fetched ambrosia and with it re- 
stored the boy to life. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vikra- 
ma! men weep at the approach of death. Why 
did the boy laugh?" King Vikrama answered: "The 
boy was astonished, because it is the custom of 
this world that mothers protect their children in 
childhood and fathers protect them in youth, while 
kings should always protect their subjects. But in 
his case his parents had sold him to the king for 
money; the king with his own sword was about to 
slay him and even the giant desired his death. 
Pity found no place in any heart. Because of his 
astonishment the boy laughed." 

When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he 
saw that he was alone. He realised that he had 
again broken his promise. He therefore returned 
to the burning ground. Flinging the dead body 
over his shoulder, he began to retrace his steps. 
As he did so, the oilman's son began to tell his 
twentieth tale. 

"King Bibhishan or Vibhishan was the brother of Ravari, 
king of Ceylon. After Ramachandra had killed Ravan and 
recovered Sita, he seated Bibhishan on the vacant throne, 
(see Indian Heroes). The giant, (a rakshas in the story) in- 
voked Bibhishan^ help as he was the king of all the rakshsas. 



ONCE upon a time there ruled over the town of 
Vilaspur, a king called Vipuleshwar. In the 
town lived a merchant who had a daughter 
called Madanmanjari. Her father married 
her to a merchant whose name was Dhanawati. 
One day he sailed away to trade in a far country. 
In his absence his wife Madanmanjari was sitting 
by an upper window and looking into the road. 
As she looked, she saw a Brahman youth whose 
name was Kamalakar. Their eyes met and in- 
stantly each fell in love with the other. After 
some minutes Kamalakar had recovered suffi- 
ciently to go to the house of a friend. Madan- 
manjari fainted. Her maid servant entered the 
room and lifted her up, but she did not recover 
consciousness. The maid servant sprinkled water 
over her. When she returned to her senses, she 
cried, "O god of Love, Shiva* burnt you to ashes, 
yet still your wickedness endures and you inflict 
pain on innocent women." 

When evening came and the moon rose, she 
looked at the moon and said, "O moon! I have 
heard it said that in you is stored ambrosia and 
that by means of your rays you shower down am- 

* Shiva burnt Kamadeva to ashes because he shot an arrow 
into Shiva's heart and so made him fall in love with Parvati. 
(/ have told the story in Ishtur Phakde.) 


130 Tales of King Vikrama 

brosia on earth. But upon me to-day you have 
showered poison." She then said to her maid, 
"Take me to my room; the moon's rays are burn- 
ing up my body." The maid servant took her in 
and said, "My mistress! are you not ashamed to 
say such things?" Madanmanjari answered, "Yes, 
I know, I do my best not to; but what can I do? 
Love's arrow has pierced me and robbed me of all 
shame. I cannot bear to be parted from my be- 
loved. The very air of this house seems poisoned." 
On hearing this the maid said, "Be brave, my 
mistress, I shall find means to cure your pain." 

The maid servant went home. After she had 
left, Madanmanjari thought to herself, "If I sacri- 
fice this aching body to win him for my husband, 
I shall become his wife in my next life." She tied 
a rope round her neck and was about to hang her- 
self when her maid returned. The maid untied the 
rope and said, "What is the use of dying? If you 
live, you will get all you desire." "It is better to 
die than suffer as I do," retorted Madanmanjari. 
"Be patient for only half an hour," said the maid 
servant, " and I shall bring your beloved to see you." 

The servant went to Kamalakar's house. She 
found him also very ill. His friend was sprinkling 
rose water over him, anointing him with powdered 
sandalwood and fanning him with lotus leaves. 
In spite of this cooling treatment his face and body 
were burning and from time to time he called to 
his friend, "Give me poison! give me poison, so 
that I may die and escape from my pain!" When 
she saw his state, the maid servant said to herself, 

Madanmanjari,Kamalakar & Dhanawati 131 

"After all there is nothing strange in this, for no 
matter how learned or how wise a man may be, 
the god of Love can in a moment lay him low." 

The maid servant said to Kamalakar, "Madan- 
manjari has sent me to call you to her, that you 
may save her life." "Your words," replied Kama- 
lakar, "have saved mine." So saying he sprang 
from his couch to his feet. He went with the 
maid servant to Madanmanjari's house. There 
the maid servant went to her mistress's room, but 
found her lying dead. When she told JKamalakar 
he gave a great cry and fell down dead also. 
Madanmanjari's kinsmen carried both bodies to 
the burning ground and placing them together 
on a pyre set fire to it. Just then Madanmanjari's 
husband Dhanawati returned from his travels. 
On hearing the whole story, he went to the 
burning ground. When he saw his wife's body 
burning alongside a strange man's he was so 
overcome with grief, that he sprang into the 
flames and perished. When the citizens learnt 
what had happened, they said one to the other, 
"We have never in our lives seen or heard of 
such a marvel." 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama! tell me who of those three persons was 
most in love." "The husband," answered the king. 
"Why?" asked the oilman's son. "Because," 
answered King Vikrama, "he killed himself for 
love of one who loved another." When the King 
Vikrama had finished speaking, he saw that he 
was alone. He realised that he had again broken 


Tales of King Vikrama 

his promise. He returned to the burning ground. 
Taking the dead body off the tree, he flung it 
over his shoulder and began to retrace his steps. 
As he went, the oilman's son began to tell his 
twenty-first tale. 



ONCE upon a time in the town of Jalasthal, 
there ruled a king called Vartaman. In it 
lived a Brahman called Vishnuswami, who 
had four sons. One was a gambler, the 
second -was an evil-liver, the third was a criminal, 
and the fourth was an atheist. One day Vishnu- 
swami lectured his sons saying, "Fortune never 
dwells in the house of a gambler. For it is written 
in the law books that one should cut off a gam- 
bler's nose and ears and drive him from the city. 
Then others warned by his fate will give up gam- 
bling. A gambler who has a wife and children 
is the same as if he had them not, for he never 
knows when this punishment may not descend 
on him. In the same way, those who fall in love 
with dancing girls only make themselves unhappy. 
Wise men shun such women. Fools give them 
their love and for their sakes ruin their health^ 
their careers, their intellects, their morals and 
their religion. Such men pay no heed to the 
words of their spiritual pastors and masters. They 
squander their money and in the end take to thiev- 
ing. Further, those who say that all religion is 
false, atheists who are not ashamed to say that 
man all his life should do nothing but enjoy him- 
self, they corrupt not only themselves, but others. 
If a cat eats her own kittens, is she likely to let a 
mouse go scot free?" "Those," the old man continued, 

134 Tales of King Vikrama 

"who do not study in their boyhood, but waste 
their youth in pleasure and their manhood in van- 
ity, bitterly repent night and day in their old age." 

When the old man had finished, his four sons 
were overcome by remorse and they agreed that 
it was better to die than to live without learning. 
"Let us, therefore," they said one to the other, "go 
into a far country and acquire learning." They 
went off together to another town and after some 
years of study, became learned men and set out 
towards their own home. On the way they saw a 
dead lion. A man had separated its bones, its 
flesh, and its skin and had put them in a leather 
well-bucket and was taking them away. "Here," 
said the four brothers, "is a chance of displaying 
our learning." One of them went to the man who 
carried the lion's remains and bought them from 
him. Then he opened the well-bucket, and sprink- 
ling some water repeated some magical words. In- 
stantly the bones re-united. The second repeated 
some other words, and the flesh stuck again to the 
bones. The third in the same way made the skin 
grow once more upon the flesh. The fourth re- 
stored the lion to life. Instantly the lion rushed 
at the four brothers and ate them up. 

When the oilman's son had reached this point, 
he said, "Who of those four was the biggest fool?" 
King Vikrama answered, "He who restored the lion 
to life. For, it is said that learning without wisdom 
is of no use. To be both learned and wise is the 
best of all. But wisdom by itself is better than 
learning by itself. Those who have no wisdom 

The Lion and the Four learned Men 135 

perish like the man who restored the lion to life." 
When King Vikrama had finished speaking, he saw 
that he was alone. He remembered that he had 
again broken his promise. He went back to the 
burning ground and flinging the dead body over 
his shoulder, began to retrace his steps. As he 
did so, the oilman's son began to tell his twenty- 
second tale. 



ONCE upon a time k king named Vidagadha 
lived in Vishvapur city. In it also lived 
a Brahman called Narayan. One day he 
thought to himself, "My body is old. It will 
be a good thing to abandon my old body and en- 
ter some young man's body." For, he had learnt 
how to do this. When the chance came he did so. 
Then he wept and then he laughed. Then in his 
new body he returned home. He said to his friends 
who knew his skill as a magician, "I have now 
become an anchorite. He who turns his mind into 
a corpse by the fire of austerities upon the shores 
of the lake of hope and at the same time cools his 
limbs, he is the skilled anchorite. For the state of 
men who live in this world is as follows: 
The body is wasted, the hair is gray; 
The face falls in and the teeth decay; 
Man takes a stick to support his frame 
But hope in his heart rules just the same. 
Evening falls when the day is dead, 
When night is over the dawn glows red, 
Grow the days to weeks, the weeks to years, 
And childhood goes with its smiles and tears. 
On the heels of youth Old Age comes fast 
And Death, grim Death, claims all at last." 
"But as no one knows who he himself is, or who 
others are, why should any look for another? In 

The Magician and the dead Youth 137 

the end all go and none remains. The body, the 
mind, the love of this world are all false roads. 
The wise guards himself against them. He puts 
aside hope and ambition, and taking a stick in his 
hand, becomes an ascetic. He puts aside love and 
anger, greed, intoxication and envy and spends 
the rest of his life in visiting the sacred places. 
Thus he attains salvation. This world is as false 
as a dream. Why, therefore, like anything in it or 
set your heart upon it? Just as the rind of the 
plantain has no sweetness, so there is no sweet- 
ness in this world. Those who take pride in their 
riches, their youth or their learning are fools. So 
too are those anchorites who wandering with a 
staff in their hands grow fast by begging milk and 
sweetmeats 4 and smile on women. For they vainly 
exchange an imperishable for a perishable happi- 
ness. I am now going to make a pilgrimage to the 
various shrines of India." When his relatives heard 
this pious discourse, they were greatly edified. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King Vikrama, 
why did the man first weep and then laugh?" 
" Because," answered King Vikrama, "he remem- 
bered the sports of his childhood and the joys of 
his youth and he wept because he was leaving a 
body in which he had lived so long and which he 
had grown to love. Then when he saw that by his 
own unaided skill he had won for himself a new 
body, he laughed with pleasure. 

When the king had finished speaking, he saw 
that he was alone. He saw that he had again 
broken his promise. He returned to the burning 


Tales of King Vikrama 

ground and taking the dead body on his back 
began once more to retrace his steps. As he went, 
the oilman's son began to tell his twenty-third tale. 



ONCE upon a time when King Dharmatma 
was ruling in Dharmapur there lived in it a 
Brahman called Govind who knew the four 
sacred books by heart and the six sciences. 
He was well versed also in faith, doctrine and 
ritual. He had four sons called Haridatta, Soma- 
datta, Yadnyadatta and Brahmadatta. They too, 
were studious and learned and they always did 
what their father told them. One day the eldest 
son died. Through grief at his death Govind fell 
so sick that he was on the point of death also. 
Vishnuswami, the king's priest, hearing of this went 
to lecture him. "Man," he said, "is born to sorrow. 
In his childhood he plays; in his youth he finds 
happiness in love. In old age he suffers pain 
because of the decay of his body. To the dwellers 
in this world are given many sorrows and few 
joys. This world is but the seed of the tree of 
sorrow. Though a man sit on the top of a tree, 
or the peak of a mountain, or descend into hell, or 
hide under the water, or conceal himself in an 
iron cage, yet he shall not escape death. Wise men 
and fools, rich and poor, the learned, the strong, 
the weak death strikes them all down. A man's 
life is at most a hundred years. Half of it passes 
at night. Of the other half a half is spent useless- 
ly in childhood and old age. The rest is wasted 
in disputes, in separations, in envy, in sorrow, in 
vanities and vain intrigues. Life is like a ripple 

140 Tales of King Vikrama 

on water. What happiness then can a man get 
from it? True men in this Kaliyuga are hard to 
find. Daily we see countries decay. Kings are 
covetous and the earth yields but scant fruits. 
Thieves and wicked men trouble us overmuch. Re- 
ligion, penance and truth are hardly to be found. 
Monarchs are without righteousness. Brahmans 
are corrupt, men are uxorious, women are untrue, 
sons revile their .fathers. And of the rest why 
speak? Friends plot against friends and all men 
hate one another. Because of their irreligion men's 
lives have become wretched. Death did not spare 
Abhimanyu* although he had Krishna for an uncle 
and Arjuna for a father. When death is so strong, 
it is folly for men to hunger after happiness. 
When death takes away a man, he has to leave 
his wealth behind him in his house. His father, 
mother, brother and wife seize it and say, "His 
body is burdening the earth; let us take it quickly 
to the burning ground." Then he who used to 
sleep on a couch, sweet with the perfume of flowers, 
is stretched upon dry wood and burnt or else 
buried in the ground. And with him die alike his 
virtues and his vices. When the night has passed, 
the day appears; when the moon has set, the sun 
rises; when youth is gone, old age comes and when 
old age passes, there comes death. In this way the 
wheel of time revolves; yet although Man sees it 
all he grows no wiser. Behold! in the Satyayuga 

* Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra, 
Krishna's sister. Abhimanyu fell in the battle of Kurukshetra 
(see Indian Heroes). 

The three sons of Govind 141 

there lived a famous king called Mandhata* the 
renown of whose virtue and valour filled the 
whole earth. In the Tretayuga lived the divine 
Ramchandra who built a bridge across the ocean; 
who destroyed Lanka and killed Ravan. In the 
Dwaparayuga ruled King Yudhishthira of whose 
victories men still sing. Yet, my friend, Death 
spared none of them. The birds that soar in the 
sky, the fishes that live in the deeps of the sea 
all alike fall into the jaws of death. No one who 
has yet lived on earth has escaped sorrow. It is 
therefore fruitless to mourn. It is far better to practise 
righteousness and to repent, remembering that if 
one sorrow has come, many others are sure to 

In this way Vishnuswami exhorted Govind. 
The latter reflected that it was useless to sit and 
mourn idly and that it would be better to do some- 
thing by which he could acquire merit. He called 
his sons and said, "My sons, I am about to begin 
a sacrifice. Bring me a tortoise from the sea." As 
he ordered, his sons went to the seashore and gave 
a fisherman a rupee to catch a tortoise. When he 
had caught one, the three brothers instead of tak- 
ing it to their father began to quarrel among 

* King Mandhata was the son of King Yuvanaswa. He 
was the father of Purukutsa the founder of the house of 
Ayodhya in which was born the divine hero Ramchandra. 
King Mandhata having conquered all the earth conceived the 
impious idea of conquering all heaven also. But Indra sent 
against him a demon called Yavanasura who defeated and 
slew him. 

142 Tales of King Vikrama 

themselves, one said, "I am a great judge of 
cookery. If I touch the tortoise, it will make my 
hands smell". The second said, " If you are a great 
judge of cookery, yet I am no fool either. I am a 
great judge of the fair sex. Therefore, I shall not 
demean myself by touching the tortoise". The 
eldest son said, "I am a great judge of beds and 
therefore, I shall not touch the tortoise". In the 
end they left the tortoise and quarrelling all the 
way went to lay their case before the king. 

The sentry announced to the king that three 
Brahmans had come to lay a case before him. 
The king sent for them and asked, "What is your 
dispute?" The youngest brother said, "Great King! 
I am a great judge of cookery". The second brother 
said, "O Lord of the earth, I am a great judge of 
the fair sex". The eldest brother said, "O incar- 
nation of Yudhisthira! I am a great judge of 
beds. We are quarrelling as to who is the clever- 
est among us. Decide between us, we pray you". 
The king replied, "You must each display before 
me your talents". "Very well," agreed the brothers. 

The king gave orders that various kinds of 
foods and dishes should be got ready. The cook 
prepared a banquet and placed it before him who 
was a great judge of cookery. As he lifted the 
first mouthful to his lips, he noticed a bad smell; 
he threw away the food, washed his hands and 
went to the king. " O reverened sir," said the king, 
"did you not like your meal?" "Great King," 
replied the Brahman, "I should have enjoyed it 
greatly, had the food not smelt bad". "But what 

The three sons of Govind 143 

made it smell?" asked the king. "Great King," 
answered the Brahman, "the rice was grown in a 
burning ground and so it smells of dead bodies". 
The king sent for his store-keeper and asked him 
from what village the rice had come. "Great King," 
said the store-keeper, " the rice came from Shilapuri". 
The king sent for the headman of Shilapuri and 
asked him in what field the rice had grown. 
"Great King," said the headman, "the rice grew in 
a cultivated part of the burning ground". When 
the king heard this, he said to the Brahman, "Yes, 
indeed! you are a great judge of cookery". 

Next he sent a beautiful woman to the judge 
of the fair sex and peeped through a hole in the 
door to see what he would do. After they had 
talked together some time, the Brahman turned 
his back on her. When the king saw this, he went 
to his own room. Next morning the king sent for 
the Brahman and said, " Well ; what did you think 
of the lady?" "I did not admire her at all," said 
the Brahman. "But why?" asked the king. 
"Because," said the Brahman, "she smelt of goats". 
The king sent for his attendant and asked him 
whence he had brought the woman, and whence 
she had come, and who she was. "She is my 
sister's daughter," said the attendant, "her mother 
died when she was three months old, and I brought 
her up on goat's milk". When the king heard this, 
he said to the Brahman, "Yes; you are certainly a 
great judge of the fair sex". 

Next the king had a number of beautiful soft 
mattresses placed on a bed and bade him who 

144 Tales of King Vikrama 

was a great judge of beds sleep on it. Next 
morning the king sent for him and said, "Well, 
did you sleep soundly all night?" "Great King," 
answered the Brahman, "I did not sleep a wink 
all night". "Why?" asked the king. "There was, 
Great King," said the Brahman, "in the seventh 
mattress a single hair which irritated me; so I 
could not sleep". They searched the seventh mat- 
tress and found the hair. Then he said to the 
Brahman, "Yes; you are certainly a good judge 
of beds". 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama, who would you say was the cleverest 
of the three brothers?" "The judge of beds," said 
King Vikrama. When he heard the king's words, 
the oilman's son began once more to hang from 
the tree. King Vikrama went back, took him down 
and began to retrace his steps. As he went, the 
oilman's son began his twenty-fourth tale. 


P. 33. 




ONCE upon a time there lived in Kalingam a 
Brahman named Kashyasharma. He had a 
beautiful wife whose name was Somadatta. 
He never ceased from making sacrifices and 
so it befell that his wife bore him a son. When 
the boy was five years old, he began to learn the 
sacred books and when he was twelve, he was as 
wise as the wisest and he served his father with 
unfaltering devotion. After some little time he 
died. His parents grieved and mourned for him. 
When the townspeople came to hear of it, they too 
sorrowed much and carried him to the burning 
ground. When they looked at his body as it lay 
on the pyre, they said one to the other, "Look! 
Death has in no way robbed the boy of his beauty." 
Now it so happened that in the burning 
ground lived an anchorite who practised austeri- 
ties there. When he heard the words of the mour- 
ners, he said to himself, "My body has become 
very old, yet the austerities which I set out to 
perform are not completed. Now that by good 
luck the body of a boy has come here, I shall 
enter it. Then I shall bring my austerities to a 
successful ending". Thereafter the anchorite en- 
tered the boy's body. Then as if he had just 
awakened, he cried " Shiva ! Shiva ! " and rose to his 
feet. All the bystanders were amazed. They took 
the boy home and went to their own houses. His 
father was so affected by the marvel that he 

The Anchorite 147 

became a wandering beggar. The anchorite then 
wept and afterwards laughed. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama, why did the anchorite first laugh and 
then weep?" "The anchorite," answered King 
Vikrama, "laughed in his joy that he had studied 
from boyhood the art of passing from his own 
body to another. Then he wept because he 
grieved that he should have to leave his own body 
which he loved well." When King Vikrama had 
finished speaking, he saw that he was alone. He 
realised that he had once more broken his promise. 
Returning to the burning ground he flung the 
dead body across his back and began to retrace 
his steps. As he did so, the oilman's son began to 
tell his twenty-fifth tale. 




ONCE upon a time there ruled in the town of 
Dharmapur in the Deccan a king called 
Mahabal. It so happened that his enemies 
gathered a great army and besieged the 
capital. For some time King Mahabal resisted gal- 
lantly. But one night when half his army had 
deserted, and the other half were dead, he fled 
with his wife and daughter into the forest. After 
they had walked some miles, day dawned. The 
king left his wife and daughter and went into a 
village to buy food. As he went, a body of Bhils 
attacked him. But the king was a brave man and 
began to shoot at them with his bow and arrows. 
They in turn began to shoot at him. 

After the king had killed several Bhils, one of 
their arrows entered his forehead. He fell down 
unconscious. Thereupon a base born Bhil rushed 
up and cut off his head. When the queen and the 
princess learnt what had befallen the king, they 
began to weep and beat their breasts. They 
walked on for several miles. Then too weary to 
walk farther, they sat down and began to lament 

It so chanced that a certain King Chandrasen 
and his son had gone out hunting. In their chase 
they came to this forest and saw the tracks of the 
two women. The king said, "How come these 

King Mahabal, his Queen & Daughter 149 

men's tracks in so wild a spot?" His son answered, 
"They are women's not men's tracks. Men do not 
have such small feet". The king replied, "You 
are right. The footprints are too small to be 
men's". The prince said, "Only two women have 
come along this path". The king then said, "Come 
along then, let us hunt them out. If we find them, 
you shall marry the woman who made the big 
footprints, and I shall marry the one who made 
the small footprints". The prince agreed. After 
a short search, they found the queen and the prin- 
cess. All parties were delighted to meet. The 
king and the prince lifted the queen and the prin- 
cess upon their horses and, as they had agreed, 
the king married the princess and the prince 
married the queen. 

At this point the oilman's son said, "King 
Vikrama, tell me what relation to each other were 
the children of the two marriages. The king was 
utterly nonplussed and could make no answer. 
The oilman's son was pleased and said, "O king, 
I have seen your courage and I am pleased with 
you. Now listen to me. That Shantashil who 
came to your city with his hairs all standing out 
like thorns and his body as dry as an old stick, 
that Shantashil who sent you to bring me to him 
and who is now sitting and repeating incantations 
in the burning ground, he seeks to kill you. Now 
I warn you that when he has finished his horrible 
rites, he will say to you, "O king, you should pro- 
strate yourself before the god". You must then 
answer, "I have never yet prostrated myself before 

150 Tales of King Vikrama 

anyone. I do not know how to do it, therefore, be 
so kind as to show me how?" He will then show 
you and as he does so, cut his head off with a 
single swordblow. If you do, you will rule for 
ever. But if you do not, he will kill you and will 
rule for ever in your stead." 

When the oilman's son had said this, his ghost 
left the dead body. The king took it to the an- 
chorite who was very pleased to see it and praised 
the king warmly. Then saying spells all the time 
he stretched it out at full length. Next he lit a 
sacred fire and seating himself with his face to the 
south offered to the *god incence, flowers, ghee, 
a lighted lamp, rice, fruits and betel nut. When 
the ceremony was over, he said, " O king, prostrate 
yourself before the god. If you do, your glory 
and your valour will grow until the eight magical 
powers and the nine treasures of Kuber will abide 
in your palace". But the king remembered what 
the oilman's son had told him. With clasped 
hands and in very humble tones he said to the 
anchorite, "Reverend sir, I do not know how to 
prostrate myself before the deity. You are my 
spiritual teacher. Be so gracious as to shew me". 

The anchorite bent down to shew the king. 
Directly he bent down, the king struck him such 
a blow with his sword that his head fell off his 
body. Directly afterwards the ghost of the oilman's 
son appeared and scattered flowers over the king. 

It is written in the sacred books that it is no 

* The god was presumably Shiva. 

King Mahabal, his Queen & Daughter 151 

sin to slay one who seeks to take a man's life. 
The god Indra and the other gods were so pleased 
with the king's bravery, that they came down in their 
celestial chariots afid applauded King Vikrama. 
The god Indra said, " O brave and gallant King, I 
am pleased with you, ask any boon of me you 
will". The king clasped his hands and said 
"Great God, I would ask you that the whole 
world should know the twenty-five tales which the 
oilman's son told me". "So long as there are moon 
and sun and earth and heaven," replied Indra> 
"so long shall these tales be told, and so long will 
your kingdom endure over the whole earth". 

With these words Indra and the other gods 
went back each to his own dwelling place. The 
king threw both the dead bodies into a cauldron 
of boiling oil. As he did so, two male figures 
appeared before him with clasped hands. "Great 
King," they said, "what are your commands?" 
"Go now," said the king, "but you must appear 
again whenever I need you". 

"We are at your orders," said the two male 
figures and vanished. King Vikrama then went 
back to rule his kingdom. 


"W'TNDER the blessing of the god Indra the 
I fame of King Vikrama spread over the 
^J whole world. One day the god Indra fear- 
ing the merit that by his penances the Rishi 
Vishwamitra had gained, resolved to stop them by 
sending either Rambha or Urvasi to win him from 
them. Both dancing girls were such mistresses of 
their art that even Indra could not decide between 
them. At last the Sage Narad said to the god, 
"O Lord of Lords! there is only one, and only one 
who can settle this question, King Vikrama of 
Ujjain, for none is so versed, as he is, in the 
science of dancing". The god Indra approved the 
words of the sage and sent his charioteer Matali 
to invite King Vikrama to Indra's heaven. When 
King Vikrama came in answer to Indra's summons, 
the god paid him great honour and seated him 
close to his own throne. Then he sent for Rambha 
and bade her dance before King Vikrama. All 
that day Rambha displayed her marvellous skill 
to the king, who sat watching her wrapt in ad- 
miration. Next day the god Indra sent for Urvasi 
and bade her dance before King Vikrama. Won- 
derful as Rambha's dancing had been, it was yet 
surpassed by the dancing of Urvasi, and at the 
close of the second day, King Vikrama pronounced 
her victorious. The King Indra pleased at the 
judgment of King Vikrama, gave the king presents 
of rich clothes and a wonderful golden throne set 
with precious stones and hung round with thirty-two 

The end of King Vikrama 153 

golden dolls. The throne had no steps so that he 
who mounted it had to climb into the seat by 
placing his foot on the head of one of the golden 
dolls. The king after thanking the god for his 
gifts asked for and received leave to return to 
Ujjain. There he set up the golden throne and 
sitting on it dispensed justice such as has never 
been known before or afterwards. 

After many many years many signs and portents 
were seen by the men of Ujjain. Comets coursed 
across the heavens, the earth quaked, the colour 
of the sky turned from blue to red. King Vikrama 
sent for his astrologers and asked them the cause 
of the omens. The astrologers answered, "O king, 
the earthquakes and the comets can have but one 
meaning, the , death of the king". King Vikrama 
said, "Nay, that cannot be. Once by my austeri- 
ties I won a boon from the gods. I asked them 
that I should not die save by the hand of one 
born of a girl two-and-a-half years old. The gods 
granted my prayer; and as no such birth can 
happen, I shall live for ever." The astrologers 
replied, "Nothing, O King, is impossible to divinity. 
Such a man may be living now and making ready 
to slay you". When King Vikrama heard the 
astrologers' words, he called to him Vetal, the king 
of the ghosts and said, "Ghost-lord, go forth and 
wander over all the earth, search every village, 
town and city to find out whether there lives on 
earth anyone born of a mother but two-and-a-half 
years old". King Vetal wandered over the whole 
earth until at last he came to the town of Prati- 

154 Tales of King Vikrama. 

shtan. There he saw in the house of a potter a 
little boy and a little girl, hardly any older, play- 
ing together. He asked them how they were 
related. The little girl replied, "This is my son." 
"Where is your father?" asked king Vetal of the 
little girl. She pointed to a Brahman and King 
Vetal questioned him about the little girl and boy. 
"The little girl is my daughter," said the Brahman 
"and the little boy is her son." King Vetal could 
not believe his ears and said angrily to the 
Brahman, "But how can that be?" The Brahman 
answered, "The ways of God are inscrutable. The 
Serpent King loved my daughter and she bore 
him the little boy yonder. His name is Shali- 

On hearing this King Vetal rode with all speed 
to Ujjain and told King Vikrama all that he had 
heard and seen. King Vikrama rewarded King 
Vetal richly and taking his sword rode to Prati- 
shtan city. Finding out the potter's house, he went 
up to Shalivahan with sword raised, meaning to 
kill him. But before the sword could fall, Shali- 
vahan struck King Vikrama so fierce a blow with 
his toy club that King Vikrama fell to the ground 
and died instantly. When the news of King 
Vikrama's death reached Ujjain, all his queens 
wished to burn themselves on his body. But the 
ministers were in great perplexity for King 
Vikrama had left no son. Then the prime mini- 
ster Bhatti by name questioned his queens and 
learning that one was expecting a child in two 
months time, forbade her to burn herself and de- 

The end of King Vikrama 155 

clared her unborn son to be king of Ujjain. Du- 
ring the ceremony a heavenly voice was heard to 
say, "Never will there be a king fit to sit on 
the throne of King Vikrama. Let a good field be 
chosen and the throne buried in it." As the voice 
commanded, so King Vikrama's councillors did, and 
choosing the richest field in Ujjain they buried in 
it the throne given by the god Indra to King 

C. A. KINCAID, cv.o., i.c.s. 

TALES FROM THE INDIAN EPICS. Crown 8vo, pp. 128. 
With six full-page illustrations by M. V. Dhurandhar, 
Price Re. 1-1-0. 

The great popularity of MR. KJNCAID'S Indian Heroes, his 
charming style and sympathetic treatment ensure success to 
this new book of stories. The author's attempt in narrating 
the ten stories eight of which are taken from the Adi Parva 
or the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata and the other two 
from the Ramayana, Bala Kandam, in his usual charming 
and easy simple English has achieved great success. 

THE INDIAN HEROES Crown 8vo, pp. 160. With ten 
full-page illustrations by M. V. Dhurandhar, Price Rs. 1-2-0. 

A collection of eighteen stories taken from the Ramayana 
and the Mahabharata. The author has followed the style 
of Charles Kingsley's Heroes not only in the spirit in which 
he has treated his materials, but a) so in his style, which 
is both simple and worthy of the subject. The stories narrate 
some of the greatest epics in the world, and it is hoped that 
they will appeal to a large number of readers, and the book 
has qualities which fit it admirably for use as a supple- 
mentary reader in Indian High Schools. 

The Times of India says "It is a noble story, and 
Mr. Kincaid tells it in a simple and straight forward fashi- 
on, which strikes exactly the required note. It should find 
a place on all school and college bookshelves." 

pp, 120. Full cloth Binding. Price Re. 1-11-0 

An English translation of Mahipathi's Bhaktivijaya, a 
book that has been rendered into several vernaculars of 
South India. In its English dress it is equally admirable. 
The style is very simple and chaste. The very fact that no 
distinction is made between Mahomedan and Hindu devotees 
is enough indication of the breadth of religious vision that 
it is the aim of the book to teach. 

The Mysore University Hdag-azine says " This is a collec- 
tion of beautiful stories beautifully presented. It is eminent- 
ly adapted for use in the lower Forms of English High 

the earliest times to the death of Shivaji. In collaboration 
with RAO BAHADUR D. B. PARASNIS Demy 8vo, pp. 
800. Cloth, with seven illustrations and two maps. 
Price Rs. 7-0-0. 


Book I., By Estelle Ross . . Price, limp cloth, Is. 4d. net.* 

Cloth boards Is. 8d 

Book II., By Mrs. Laurence Binyon Price, limp cloth, Is. 8d. 

Cloth boards, 2s. Od. 

IN these two books the authors have told the stories of men 
and women in the world's history who have accomplished 
great things for the good of their fellow men by peaceful means. 
The characters dealt with are explorers like Franklin and 
Captain Scott, philanthropists like John Howard and Lord 
Shaftesbury, artists like Leonardo and Millet, musicians like 
Beethoven, men of science like Galileo and Pasteur. The books 
are very fully illustrated with portraits and other drawings. 


Large Crown 8vo. Fully Illustrated. 

Book I (for Standard III) . . Price 2s. 4d. net. 

Book II (for Standard IV) . 2s. 6d. 

Book III (for Standard V) . . 2s. 9d. 

Book IV (for Standard VI.) . 3s. 6d. 

rpHE volumes of this set of reading books comprise stories, 
J- biographies, historical narratives, essays, speeches, and 
poems, all related more or less closely to the idea of Patriotism. 
The subject is broadly regarded; the lessons are free from 
' jingoism' and from any exaltation of the military spirit, and it 
is fully recognized that Patriotism is a virtue not of one country 

The matter in the first three books is almost entirely new, 
and has been written expressly for the series. The fourth 
book consists of selections from standard authors. Many of 
the pieces in each book are of considerable length, demanding 
of the pupils the same sustained attention as continuous readers. 

The illustrations have been specially drawn, and are not old 
pictures to which new text has been written a method frequently 
employed, but never satisfactory. 

Each book concludes with a number of exercises dealing 
with the subject-matter as well as the text of the reading 
lessons. The higher books are also provided with notes where 
such are needed. 

In all material respects paper, print, and binding these 
books are equal to the best. They conform in every point 
to the recommendations of the British Association's Report 
on the Influence of School-books on Eyesight. 


(For European and A. V. Schools). Is. 2d. net each. 

Rough: The Story of a Dog. By MRS. HERBERT STRANG. 
A Stitch in Time : A Story of Home Life. By EVELYN WARD. 
The Golden Gate: A First Book of Poetry. 
The Magic Ragman: A Dream Story. By AGNES FROME. 
Neddy: The Story of a Donkey. By MRS. HERBERT STRANG. 

A Little Norman Maid: A Story of the Norman Conquest. 

Brave Margret : A Story of a Girl's Heroism. By MRS. HERBERT 


The Boy Who Would Not Learn : By HERBERT STRANG. 
Little Talks about Birds and Beasts: By MAY BYRON. 

Cerdic the Saxon: A Story of the Danish Invasions. 
Our Great Adventure: A Story of a Hundred Years Ago. 
Through the North Country. 
The Story of Joan of Arc. 
In Trafalgar's Bay. 
The World War. 

Field and Forest Folk: By EOWARD THORNTON. 
The Story of Robert Bruce: By LEWIS SPENCE. 
The Story of William Wallace: By LEWIS SPENCE. 
The Story of Nelson. By ARTHUR O. COOKE. 
The Story of Lord Kitchener. By ARTHUR O. COOKE. 

The Silver Shot. A Story of the Sixteenth Century. By 


The Story of Francis Drake. By H. RUSSEL FORD. 
The Story of Napoleon. By ARTHUR O. COOKE. 
A Prisoner in Spain. By HERBERT STRANG. 
The Story of Lord Roberts. By ARTHUR O. COOKE. 
Some Famous Women. By MARGARET ASHWORTH. 

This new series includes stories, historical and domestic: lives of great 
characters: romance: travel: nature study, etc. All the matter is new, original 
and copyright. The chief features of the series are: (1) The grading; each 
volume being carefully suited to the capacities of pupils. (2) Specially large 
types. (3) Good literary style guaranteed by the name of the Editor. 
(4) Beautiful illustrations, specially drawn by the best artists with a 
coloured frontispiece. 


Crown 8vo, Cloth, with Maps and Illustrations- 

1. Woods, Fields & Sea. 

2. Over Land and Sea. Is. 

3. The World and its Wealth. 

4. White Man's Lands. 

5. Regions and Nations. 

6. Britain and British Trade. 

A SERIES of books dealing with Physical, Economic, and 
Historical Geography in a simple and interesting fashion, the 
distinctive feature being that the subject is regarded as a study of 
peoples and their activities, rather than of lands and their products. 

The six books have been designed to cover generously the three 
stages set forth in the Board of Education 'Suggestions for the 
Teaching of Geography' (Circular 834), two books to each stage. 

In the first stage, geographical principles are associated with 
nature study, and the narrative aims at creating the atmosphere 
of the open country. Scenes in distant lands are introduced 
through the medium of bird migration, and the journeys of 
famous travellers and explorers. 

The second stage includes a survey of the world, with special 
attention to physical features, their influence upon man's activities 
in general, and upon thebuilding of the British Empire in particular. 

The third stage treats the world regionally, and traces the 
influence of regional characteristics on the rise and progress of 

The series as a whole leads up to a consideration of Britain 
and her relation with the rest of the world, which forms the 
theme of the last book. 

The series provides a course of Geography for Elementary 
Schools, and for lower and middle forms in Secondary Schools. 
The later books are very suitable for use in Continuation Schools. 


A Series of Simple Geographical Stories. 


Price, paper cover, 6d. net each : limp cloth, 8d. net. 

1. The Little Brown Girl. 

2. The Pig-tail Boy. 

3. The Sunflower Lantern. 

4. The Banana Boy. 

5. The Sheik's Daughter. 

6. Manuel's Adventure. 

IN these little books the author has contrived to convey a cer- 
tain amount of geographical information in the guise of stories. 
The scenes are laid in foreign lands ; the incidents are such as 
might occur in the lives of children ; and the language and style 
are studiously simple- Each book is illustrated with four 
charming colour pictures. 




Adapted by 


Authors of 'The King's English' 

From the Oxford Dictionary 

Large Crown 8vo, Pp. xii+1044, cloth. Price Rs. 4-11. 

The most accurate and comprehensive dictionary hitherto 

placed within the reach of Indian students. 
Some of the special features of this work are: 

The large amount of space given to common words. 

The copious use of illustrative sentences- 

The curtest possible treatment of uncommon words or those fitter for 
the encyclopaedia than the dictionary. 

The severest economy of expression that readers can be expected to put 
up with. 

The words or senses of words given are those 'current'. 

The authors 'include many words and senses that are fossilized having 
in themselves no life or capacity for further development, but kept extant by 
being enshrined in perhaps a single proverb or phrase'. 

If fewer scientific and technical terms are given, colloquial, facetious, 
slang, and vulgar expressions are admitted freely with a cautionary label. 

The spelling is for the most part, but not invariably, that of the 
Oxford English Dictionary. 

When the pronunciation of a word is not sufficiently determined by 
the placing of the stress-mark or by vowel quantities, further information is 
appended in brackets 

Etymology is given at the end of each article. 

The Times, London says " In everything that we ordinarily expect^of 
a popular Dictionary spelling, pronunciations, definitions, etymologies it 
inherits the superiority of the Oxford Dictionary from which it is adapted. 
In everything else that can concern a Dictionary (and how much thai is!), it 
is not only ivithout a superior, it is literally without a rival." 








FE8 191934 

BEC.CIR. JAN 26*83 

LD 21-100ra-7,'33 

VB ^0598